For Madelene Sagstrom, getting to defend her maiden title at the Gainbridge LPGA close to her home in Orlando is nothing short of surreal. Sagstrom became a Rolex First-Time Winner with her one-stroke victory over Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, draining a crucial par putt on the final hole. She said moments like that are what she reflects on the most.
“I know I'm an LPGA winner, but sometimes you forget that because you're in your own bubble,” said Sagstrom. “I think that just being here, just going out and doing my best, I mean, the thing I'm going to be most excited about is just the green grass, just being able to hear a ball fly, just being able to see the ball fly, and just trying to go into that bubble of fighting and just fighting hard for the score and fighting hard for everything around it. It's just going to be fun.”
It’s been an eventful few days for the 28-year-old, who also released her courageous Drive On story with the world the past Monday. Sagstrom opened up about being sexually abused as a young girl, a tale and journey she now hopes inspires men and women of any age.
“I think just over these last, especially few weeks because it's been quite intense with a lot of Zoom calls, I mean, just having that – just having the LPGA's back and like just the whole golf community just proves that they care about us so much more than just as the athlete. They care about us as human beings and know that this platform can change lives,” said Sagstrom, who added that she’s been appreciative of the reaction and supportive response from her story. “I think golf is entertainment, but it's easy to make it your entire world. They're just showing that we're so much more, and I'm so happy that they wanted to share my story and that everybody is proud of what I have done and the LPGA has done. I'm so grateful at the moment. It's slightly overwhelming, but it feels so good inside.”
Annika Sorenstam, who Madelene will spend the first two rounds with along with Anna Nordqvist, said Sagstrom’s resilience was more than admirable.
“It takes a lot of courage to do what she did, to be able to share some intimate personal stories from her childhood that must have just been obviously haunting her for years and years,” said Sorenstam. “You know, when I see her obviously we're not going to be talking about it on the golf course, but I've reached out and told her I'm proud of you, and if you need anything I'm here to support you in whatever you need. That's such a personal thing.”