NAPLES, Fla. – There was a time when Madelene Sagstrom had a picture of Ludvig Aberg’s swing as the wallpaper background on her phone. She coveted Aberg’s impact position.
“I was like, I need this in my life,” said Sagstrom with a laugh.
This week Sagstrom, 31, gets to see plenty of that impact position as the Swedish duo teams up for the inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational.
They’ve known each other for nearly a decade, with both sharing the same swing coach in Hans Larsson, who oversaw their instruction at Sweden’s prestigious sport school, Riksidrottsgymnasium.
There are 16 teams at the Grant Thornton, the first team event between the PGA Tour and LPGA since John Daly and Laura Davies won the final JCPenney Classic in 1999. Teams played a scramble format on the first day at Tiburon Golf Club and alternate shot in the second. The final round will feature a modified fourball format
Grant Thornton: Sunday tee times
While the event is unofficial, the purse of $4 million is among the highest all season on the LPGA outside the majors. The winning team will receive $1 million or $500,000 each. Sagstrom and Aberg enter the final round eight strokes back of Lydia Ko and Jason Day.
Aberg, 24, turned professional in June and won the Omega European Masters in September and the RSM Classic on the PGA Tour in November. At the 2024 Masters, he will make his first major championship appearance.
Before Aberg made his debut at the Ryder Cup in Rome, he first flew to Spain to watch Sagstrom and two other Swedes he went to school with, Linn Grant and Maja Stark, compete in the Solheim Cup.
It was Ludvig’s first time attending a Solheim Cup or Ryder Cup.
“The way that Madelene hits the ball is different from other women I’ve played with,” said Ludvig. “It’s the compression, the height, the distance. It’s a combination of everything.”
Sagstrom’s fiancé Jack Clarke, has caddied for Aberg since he turned professional. While many of the teams in the field at the Grant Thornton met for the first time this week, few have the kind of shared history that this team enjoys.
Sagstrom, who won the 2020 Gainbridge LPGA event at Boca Rio, said she has plenty of swing videos on her phone of Aberg, but it’s his short game that she finds particularly inspiring.
“For me, obviously, he can hit shots that I can’t hit,” said Sagstrom. “But, in general, his short game is just unbelievable. He’s really good around the greens and that part I feel like I’m really lacking in my own game.”
“I’m a good driver of the ball, so you’re driving is impressive, but it’s not that impressive,” Sagstrom added with a laugh. “Whatever you’re lacking yourself, is kind of what impresses you the most.”