A total of 188 players made their way to Venice, Fla., to compete in Stage II of the LPGA and Epson Tour Qualifying Tournament in mid-October. Some have just finished competing on the Epson Tour, while others are taking a break during their LPGA Tour season in an attempt to keep their status for the 2024 season. Ingrid Lindblad fits a different category as she’s one of 35 amateurs competing with their professional debuts in mind.
Despite her amateur status, the current Louisiana State University Tiger is no stranger to competing at the elite level. At just 23 years old, she can call herself a two-time SEC Player of the Year, two-time European Ladies Amateur Championship winner and the 2022 United States Women’s Open low amateur, finishing T11 amongst the best in the world last year at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club.
During the first round of Stage II of the LPGA and Epson Tour Qualifying Tournament, Lindblad showed her strength on the golf course, firing a bogey-free, 5-under 67 to sit in for second place. Her scorecard may reflect a perfect start to the week, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Swede began her week filing police reports after her luggage was stolen from Orlando International Airport.
Instead of focusing all of her energy on preparation for the tournament, Lindblad was figuring out her next steps, which included buying a new suitcase and clothes from local stores. Regardless of her baggage issues, Lindblad signed for one of the day’s best rounds, showing she has what it takes to compete against the best on the LPGA Tour.
“I feel like it proves that's where I belong. That's what I was thinking about today,” said Lindblad. “I feel like I have the game to play here ,and that's what I've proven at least today. Hopefully, keep that going.”
What’s next for the LSU graduate student? She plans on finishing out her collegiate career and studies before turning professional. Competing at Stage II in 2023 puts her ahead of the eight-ball, as completing all 72 holes at Plantation Country Club will guarantee her status on the Epson Tour, the official qualifying tour of the LPGA, in 2024. Knowing that she could lock up somewhere to play next summer is the cherry on top of a solid first round.
“It feels pretty good because college, it's such a safe place. Everything is set up for you, and I feel like coming out when you're done with college, you know you have somewhere to play,” said Lindblad. “I'm very happy that I'm able to play Stage II and just feel like I have somewhere to play when I'm done in college.”
Starting her career on the Epson Tour would put Lindblad in the same situation as some of the modern LPGA greats. Fellow Swede and LPGA Tour champion Madelene Sagstrom competed on the qualifying tour in 2016, earning both Rookie and Player of the Year honors after earning three victories that season. Former World No. 1 and Olympic gold medalist Nelly Korda also graduated that year. Additionally, current Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1, Lilia Vu has ties to the Epson Tour, earning three wins and Player of the Year honors in 2021.
“It's cool to see you can go through the Epson Tour from college or just from amateur golf. To see them now, they're pretty amazing athletes and really good golfers, so hopefully I can follow those same steps,” said Lindblad. “So far, I’ve played some really good golf in my life, so I just feel like see how good I can be and see how I can compete with the other players that are on the LPGA.”