There’s something about California that brings out the easiness in everybody. Soft breezes. Beautiful beaches. The Eagles playing through speakers at every turn. It’s a place to exhale and relax.
Just ask Madelene Sagstrom and Maja Stark of Team Sweden, who played together for the first time in a team event as professionals on Thursday as part of the Hanwha International Crown at TPC Harding Park.
In her debut at the event, Stark admitted she was nervous and a birdie on the first hole didn’t settle her down. But things just rolled from there as she and Sagstrom battled the English duo of Liz Young and Alice Hewson.
Since Sagstrom had experience with the format, she felt the need to ease her talented teammate into the tournament.
“I kind of felt like I knew what I was doing today and it was more trying to get her in a good place,” Sagstrom said. “It was a really good matchup. We played really well together. Our games are fairly similar, so it’s fun. We’ve never played team events before because I’m a lot older than her, so it’s cool. It’s awesome.
“But I think at the same time my experience also kind of helps me being out there. I talked a little bit about how I felt in previous Solheims and stuff, so it was good.”
The pair got to 4 under through the first three holes and had little trouble dispatching the English side 5 and 4. Their teammates, Anna Nordquist and Caroline Hedwall, also had little trouble with the Brits, winning 4 and 3 to put the Swedish team on the top of Pool A.
Day one @HopeBarnett_ recaps @Intl_Crown in Thursday’s episode of LPGA Now https://t.co/n5Sh9uGtEj
— LPGA (@LPGA) May 5, 2023
As for the format, the first three rounds of play feature four-ball competition with the top two countries from each pool advancing to Sunday. Two semifinal matches will be played Sunday morning. New this year, each semifinal match will consist of two singles matches and one foursomes match.
The winning semifinal countries will compete in the final match on Sunday afternoon, and a third-place match will take place between the two losing semifinal countries. Both matches will be in the same format as the semifinals.
As for Stark, she thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next, thanks to a relaxing opening day with Sagstrom.
“It was mostly nice to see (Sagstrom) was not frustrated with me, that she knows what it’s like and can relate to it,” Stark said. “It was very nice because it made me more calm and I could focus on what I was doing wrong like technically in the shots, which was that I was thinking about technique and not the pins because I was trying to be perfect.
“So yeah, I think it was just calming.”