Swedish women’s golf star becomes kiwi and All Blacks fan

Swedish LPGA star Pernilla Lindberg has become an unabashed fan for New Zealand and the All Blacks as she is set to compete in the 101st New Zealand Open, presented by Sky Sport, near Queenstown this week.

Lindberg will take up a sponsor invitation to compete in the Open, following a chance trip to Queenstown, where she and husband Daniel were celebrating a one-year anniversary after they were married in the region a year ago.

The major winner and Rio Olympian was quick to take up the invitation and excited to play in the tournament.

“We are delighted to have Pernilla join us,” said New Zealand Open Chairman, John Hart. “It is a unique occasion for New Zealand Golf. She and her husband got married here and planned to come back for a first-year anniversary holiday and found out the tournament was on at the same time.

“Pernilla is here under a sponsor invitation spot and is here to have some fun and has already added so much to our tournament.”

Lindberg, who fell in love with the country when she competed in the New Zealand Women’s Open a decade ago, jumped at the opportunity.

“I was going to be here anyway and it is my favourite country. I couldn’t say no. Any chance to tee it up at these beautiful courses I could not say no.

“My goal this week is to enjoy this opportunity and have fun. It is very hard to compete against the guys. I am just going to soak in the atmosphere, my playing partners and fun to see what I can do with my game.”

The major golfing challenge is the length of the par 4s, with Lindberg to play from the same tees as the men.

“In my head I will need to change the par on a few (holes) on the scorecard that are almost too long for me, so walking away with a four on those holes will feel like a birdie for me.”

She will be paired with Beauden Barrett in the pro-am format, and has become an All Blacks fan after watching their series on Amazon last year.

“I fell in love with the team and their legacy and how humble they are with all their success. So when I got the opportunity to play with Beauden I was more than excited.”

She also changed her practice schedule after an invitation from Barrett to join fellow All Blacks Israel Dagg and Damien McKenzie.

“It was a cool opportunity. All three love their golf but it was cool to see three people who have been so successful in rugby, how nervous they can be in a Tuesday practice round in golf which puts things into a good perspective.”

Lindberg is aiming to enjoy the occasion and is not placing any more significant motives on her appearance this week.

“It is my 11th year on the LPGA and there are more sponsors on board, more bigger events, we are playing on bigger and better golf course. It is a good time to be part of women’s sport in general and any little step like this helps.”

Tournament Chairman John Hart is also thrilled with Lindberg’s appearance at the Open which has developed significantly under his governance.

“We have tried to build this tournament over the last nine or 10 years and the pro-am format has become established here.

“We are always looking at innovation and be creative. We want this tournament to be a fun tournament and Pernilla just fits. To have a major winner join our other two major winners here is special and we recognise it and celebrate it.

“There has been very positive response. We cater for everyone we want to cater for in this tournament. This is a tournament invite and it is one of the best we have made.”

The New Zealand Open begins on Thursday at Millbrook Resort and The Hills before a cut for the final two rounds at Millbrook Resort on the weekend.

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