Bandon, Ore. –– Mia Landegren is a born and bred American.
On the first tee of this week’s 35th U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, Landegren, 15, is proud to be announced as hailing from Bridgewater, Conn.
For the past three summers, though, Landegren proudly represented Sweden. Landegren, by virtue of her father Erik being a native Swede, also holds Swedish citizenship.
I think it’s a better experience for me, said Landegren, who, to this point, has eschewed competing on the U.S. junior circuits. I think I get more out of it because Sweden is very much into building the players and there is a lot of team and tournament play.
Last year, Landegren was successful enough in her age category to rank as one of Sweden’s top junior players and earn an invitation to represent the country in an international match against Norway.
In some respects, Landegren was able to draw on her experiences in Sweden on Monday.
On a day when chilly wind and rain crossed paths around Bandon Dunes Golf Resort’s Old Macdonald Golf Links, Landegren filled her scorecard with bogeys — 11 bogeys and one double bogey — for a 12-over-par 83 in her first USGA championship.
While that may appear to leave little chance of making the cut as one of 64 players who move on to match play after Tuesday, by early evening nine over par was tied for 91st, three shots off the cut line. Even more encouraging heading into Tuesday’s round at Bandon Trails is that Landegren played the final six holes in one over.
I thought it was tough out there today, she said. I was used to this wind and rain coming from Connecticut. I shot 83, so I’m fairly happy with that considering the weather.
In the beginning it was hard to get going. But I wasn’t really nervous because I didn’t put a whole lot of expectations on myself coming into the tournament. I was really more excited just to see what I could do against the older players.
Consider it just another notch on her belt. This spring Landegren, a sophomore, co-captained the Shepaug Valley High golf team — the boys team, that is. At season’s end, she was the clubhouse leader at the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Division IV Championship for six hours, before finishing fourth.
With each year I can see how much she is maturing, said Erik Landegren of his daughter, adding that where once her 8-over 42 on the first nine would have brought her to the verge of tears, she now buckles down with a steely determination. She’s very stubborn and she refuses to let the game get the best of her.
Erik Landegren walked a half hole ahead of his daughter on Monday and was pleased with what he saw, especially on the second nine. For that matter, he has been impressed by his daughter’s golf acumen ever since she first swung a club.
Mia Landegren was the second born of triplet girls and was introduced by Erik and her mother, Patricia, to a variety of sports growing up. Like a lot of golf beginnings, there came a day about seven years ago when father and daughter were in the yard knocking a ball around.
"I just had some old clubs and I thought 'Mia has a pretty good little swing,'" he said. "And it stuck, she absolutely loved it from the beginning. We actually had to make her do other sports when she was younger because she just wanted to focus on the golf. I was thrilled."
What appeals to Mia Landegren about the game is the competitive aspect against par and the course. That is what drives her to improve, drives her to want to turn professional at some point.
On Monday, several college coaches roamed Old Macdonald’s grounds, clearly taking in her game. Prior to this championship, Mia Landegren failed in an effort to qualify for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open. It’s doubtful that this will be her last USGA championship.
After the WAPL, Mia Landegren is headed back to Stockholm, where much of Erik Landegren’s extended family lives. How long she will compete in that international atmosphere is the unknown.
I really want to play at the next level, she said. So at some point we will probably talk to coaches and see what they think I should do. I really love playing in Sweden and that whole experience, but I also want to do what’s best for my game.
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on USGA websites.