For LET Rookie Madelene Sagstrom, playing in Lalla Aicha Tour School allowed her to achieve her dream of playing The 2017 Solheim Cup only eight months later.
Sagstrom, who won three tournaments and topped the Symetra Tour Money List in 2016, made The Solheim Cup her big goal for 2017 and so she attended LET Lalla Aicha Tour School with a view to being eligible for qualification or selection.
The 24-year-old from Sweden was 70th in the world when she was picked for the team by Annika Sorenstam and she played in three matches, earning her first point with her 3-and-2 singles win over Austin Ernst at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa.
Speaking at the Evian Championship, the fifth Major, she said: “I got 100 per cent out what I was hoping for by going into Tour School because I wanted to get a chance to play in The Solheim Cup. It was a big dream and then when it actually happened, I was mind blown that I was actually representing Europe. It was a dream come true.
“The atmosphere out there was absolutely incredible and I enjoyed every minute of it. I’m still signing and I was signing flags today. The fact of representing and being out there was just awesome.
“The team experience was fantastic. We play such an individual sport and for one week, you get together and everyone is pulling for each other. It’s amazing at how quickly you can build up the team spirit and play for each other. I was like, if I don’t play for myself, I’m going to play for Annika, the person in front of me and the person behind me. It was awesome to have that team spirit, which we never get to feel, like you do in other sports like soccer.”
Sagstrom said that she would recommend others to follow her path by attending Lalla Aicha Tour School for the 2018 season. “Just the experience of playing against the people that are going to play with on tour is worthwhile and even if you’re not there yet, you can see what you need to improve on to get there. It’s a great way to get on Tour and I really enjoyed it,” she said.
“It was always a dream to play in Europe, but as I went to Louisiana State University, my easiest route was to start playing in the States, but I always knew I wanted to come back home.
“I took my brother, Jesper, with me to Morocco and left my normal caddie at home, because I wanted to spend time with him, and we had two amazing weeks. It was awesome and everybody was super nice. I still have people following me from all over Morocco, messaging me on Facebook and stuff. I enjoyed Mohamedia and Samanah, so I played on two great golf courses.
“I didn’t really know what to expect as I had never done LET Q School, but it was very well run and super professional. It felt like what I was used to on the Symetra Tour in the USA. It was just like being on tour, playing in tournaments and we had good crowds too.”
Sagstrom believes that the experiences of playing in Lalla Aicha Tour School and The Solheim Cup will motivate her to play even better. “Having The Solheim as that carrot, it makes me want to get back there and do that again. It will give me that extra little push throughout the season to work hard to get back into that spot again,” she continued, adding that Annika will always be one of her biggest role models and mentors.
“What she showed me that week was even more than I already knew. She is a true inspiration and she goes into everything 110 per cent, heart and soul, into everything she does. Whenever we started to doubt ourselves for a few moments, if you looked at her, no matter what we did, she knew we could do it and that bumped our spirits up and we thought, ‘we can do it! If she thinks we can do it, we can do it!’ The way she talked, the way she handled herself, she really pushed the team and it was just awesome.”
Sagstrom is part of an elite group, as former winners of Lalla Aicha Tour School who have gone on to achieve great success include recent world number one Ariya Jutanugarn and fellow Olympians Aditi Ashok and Nanna Koerstz Madsen.
This year’s Lalla Aicha Tour School once again takes place over two stages, with three pre-qualifiers in Cambodia and Morocco, followed by the Final Stage in Marrakech, Morocco, where the future stars of European and world golf will be discovered.
More information can be found here