Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall is on her way back from the golfing wilderness. After recovering from a wrist injury which has played havoc with her game for the last four years, she is finally recovering her confidence.
The three-time European Solheim Cup team member fired an opening 68 in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Kooyonga Golf Club in Adelaide on Thursday, to sit in a share of third, three strokes behind the leader, Ji Young Ko of South Korea. Last week’s ActewAGL Canberra Classic champion, Jiyai Shin, is two strokes back in second place.
Hedwall has made a dazzling start to the 2018 Aussie swing with a tie for fifth at the Oates Vic Open and a tie for ninth at last week’s ActewAGL Canberra Classic. She is now in third place on the LET order of merit.
She has had a few quiet years since bursting onto the LET in 2011, when she won the New South Wales Open on the Australian ALPG tour on her pro debut in January before claiming a further four tournaments in her rookie season.
After another LET win in Austria in 2012, she won the 2013 Mount Broughton Classic and Bing Lee Samsung New South Wales Open on the ALPG in 2013, but there her winning streak ended.
A wrist injury sustained in Phoenix in 2014 blighted her progress and she explained: “I was just going to pick up my golf clubs at the carousel at the airport and twisted my wrist, and I couldn’t turn it after that. I had to pull out of the event that week and try to play injured, which I had to adjust the swing a little bit to be able to play and that was not smart, because then I changed my swing and when I got back, it was just messed up.
“I was on a good roll, I had a good week in Australia before that injury and it was just unfortunate because I’d lost a lot of confidence after that. I played injured and that was not the smartest thing. I’m not going to do that again. It’s just been a long way back, but now I’m finally feeling like I’m getting everything together and I’m feeling more and more confident, which is so nice.
“It’s until now really that I got the flexibility back in my wrist, so that’s been the struggle, because my putting has been terrible the past four years. I got a putter two years ago, but it’s mostly confidence really. I lost everything really and now it’s coming together.
“I just totally lost it, because I couldn’t grip it the same way and I didn’t feel comfortable, but now it’s starting to work really well, so I’m happy about that.”
Also on four-under-par alongside Hedwall are the former world number one Lydia Ko, Mo Martin, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Luna Sobron Galmes, Suzuka Yamaguchi, Sun Young Yoo and LPGA rookie Caroline Inglis from the United States.
Like Hedwall, Ewart Shadoff made five birdies and a bogey at the 17th.
She said: “I’m very happy; it’s my first round of the season, so it’s good to get off to a solid start. I birdied the first three holes, so that was nice and it was solid all day.”
Shin, the 2013 Women’s Australian Open winner at Royal Canberra, played later in the afternoon and was pleased that the weather remained favourable. She is gunning for her 51st professional victory after claiming her 50th at the weekend.