Lindberg Gains a Husband while Parting Company with a Caddie
All five of the LPGA’s current major champions are in the field for this week’s HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore and, in this day and age, it’s hardly surprising that each comes from a different country. Pernilla Lindberg, who won the ANA Inspiration, hails from Sweden, Ariya Jutanugarn, the US Open champion, from Thailand, Sung Hyun Park, the Women’s PGA champion, from South Korea, Angela Stanford, the Evian winner, from the USA, and Georgia Hall, the British Open champion, from the UK.
Of that little lot, Jutanugarn is No. 1 on the current Rolex World Rankings, Park the No. 2, Hall, the No 10, Stanford No. 31 and Lindberg No 42.
Yet no-one should think that Lindberg, who got married during the winter break, is too far down the list to be a threat in Singapore, even if she has just missed a couple of cuts. When she teed up in last year’s ANA Inspiration, she was 95th on the rankings and had never won a tournament until she came out on top that week.
If the win itself came as a surprise, the way she achieved it was still more of a shock – and one which has reverberated round the golfing globe ever since. To recap, she defeated Jenny Song, who like her was looking for a first victory, and Inbee Park, a winner of seven LPGA majors, in what was, would you believe, an eight-hole play-off.
Song was eliminated on the third extra hole as Park and Lindberg both made birdies. Then, after one more fruitless trip down the 18th, play was suspended because of the fast-fading light. Come the Monday morning and they set off round the original lap of 10th, 17th and 18th – and even that failed to bring this great major to a conclusion.
Back they went to the 10th for their eighth play-off hole and, by now, the money was even more firmly on Park who had the experience of having been involved in as many as six play-offs in her career. Yet it was Lindberg, with her total lack of experience on this front, who holed a mighty 30-foot birdie putt before Park missed from 20 feet.
As luck would have it, Lindberg’s parents had come to spectate that week and it meant the world to Pernilla that they should have been there for the pinnacle of her golfing life. “The only reason that I play golf is because of my parents,” she explained. “They’re the ones who introduced me to the game and I’m so happy they can be here and share this with me.”
There was another family-member-in-the-making in the party too – namely, her caddie-cum-fiancé, Daniel Taylor. He had served as her caddie for six seasons having decided that he himself, though good enough to have played for England as an amateur, was never going to make a career for himself as a professional.
The pair married in January whilst separating as player and caddie. Recently, Taylor accepted his invitation to caddie for Ariya Jutanugarn – an arrangement which meets with all three’s approval. The player-caddie relationship, Pernilla has explained, can be “stressful and emotional” and, at the end of the 2018 season, she and Daniel had come to the conclusion that, as a married couple, they would benefit from not spending every minute of every day in each other’s company.
As it is, they reckon that they have enough good golfing-togetherness memories from that ANA experience alone to share for the rest of their lives – and to be able to tell their children and their children’s children.