The 27-year-old Swede, playing her first season on the Epson Tour, has had the passion to travel and play golf since she began taking intensive English lessons as a fifth grader. The daughter of a professional soccer player, she was born in Switzerland and lived in Sweden and Italy as her father, Hans, played all over Europe and was one of the most frequent members of the Swedish national team. Her grandfather, a senior European team golf champion, taught her the game.
“It goes back to Sweden when I was young,” Holmqvist said. “My club sent the older kids to play college golf in the United States. I thought that was so cool and that became a goal of mine – to travel and play in the United States.
“At that time, women’s soccer wasn’t as big a deal as men’s soccer. My dad encouraged me not to play soccer but to pursue golf.”
Holmqvist first played at Tulane University in New Orleans and captured the 2009 Conference USA title by 10 strokes and then won two professional events back in Sweden as an amateur the following summer. That success spurred her to transfer to Cal as a sophomore for the completion of her college career. She was all-Pac 12 and All-America and earned Academic All-America honors as a Media Studies graduate.
After turning pro in late 2012, Holmqvist quickly began to play all over the world, most notably in Europe and Australia.
In February 2013, she became an Internet sensation while attempting to qualify for the Women’s Australian Open. During the round, she felt a pain on her leg and noticed a spider. Thinking it was a poisonous redback spider, a relative of the black widow, she flicked it off, quickly grabbed a tee and pierced the skin and squeezed out the venom. She continued the round as medical attendants kept an eye on her.
“When I was growing up playing and even today, even if I’m sick or injured, I have the ability to block things out,” Holmqvist said. “People were freaking out around me and I didn’t grasp how difficult the situation could have been because I didn’t know that much about spiders.”
She took numerous pills and antibiotics following the round to offset any damage. Some friends in professional golf began calling her “Spidey” and young fans still occasionally want her to sign a Spiderwoman sign.
“We all had a laugh about it, fortunately,” Holmqvist said. “News of what happened appeared in all kinds of random places. Someone told me it reached 75 million households in a couple days. It was kind of weird.”
At the end of 2013, Holmqvist had qualified for the LPGA, but her globetrotting continued. Playing out of her home base in Stockholm, she began 2014 in Dubai, played in Australia, in Thailand and Monday qualified for the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii. It was a four-month whirlwind.
“I just got burned out,” Holmqvist said. “I was based in Stockholm and trying to play on the LPGA. I contracted a respiratory illness and just felt bad. I was back and forth.”
After making just two cuts in 10 LPGA starts, 2015 offers a fresh perspective for Holmqvist. She is focused on the Epson Tour and found a home in Jupiter, Fla., as she plays frequently at The Dye Preserve. Her best finish was a tie for seventh finish at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic in late March.
Still, she has multiple ties back to her homeland. Her main coaches are former European Tour player Per-Ulrik Johansson (strategy) and former NHL star Mats Sundin (mental). She also consult with former PGA Tour winner Gabriel Hjertstedt (swing) – all Swedes – along with former major champion Dave Stockton (short game) and swing coach Sean Hogan of the David Leadbetter Academy to work on her game.
“I’m really happy with my progress and ball striking, I just need to get better with my short game,” Holmqvist said. “I see all of these people more as consultants. I’m not dependent on one coach because if that one person isn’t there sometimes you can’t play. You have to be independent and rely on your own game. You have to be able to troubleshoot yourself if things aren’t going your way. But I never would be where I am without my coaches.”
Settled in for one season on one tour also has its challenges for a world traveler.
“Finding something outside of golf to relax has been a problem for me from time to time,” Holmqvist said. “I tend to over-practice or work out too much and not leave the course. Moving to the U.S., a big goal is to run, see friends, go to movies and volunteer for animal rescue more often. Just enjoy other things, too.”