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Amateur Ingrid Lindblad makes USWO history while using former pro as last-minute caddie

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SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. – An unexpected phone call last week brought Sophie Gustafson back to the U.S. Women’s Open for the first time since 2013. Not as a player, but as a caddie.

Gustafson’s fellow Swede, Ingrid Lindblad, was a late addition to the field at Pine Needles as the first alternate at her qualifying site in Hockley, Texas. And Thursday, the pair teamed up for a record-setting 65, the lowest round ever by an amateur in the U.S. Women’s Open.

“I’m so impressed by her mental strength, it’s just incredible. She doesn’t get down on herself if she’s hitting off line or misses a putt she’s just like, ‘oh well,’” Gustafson said about the 22-year-old amateur. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.”

Lindblad is one shot back of leader Mina Harigae (64) though 18 holes in the season's second major. Minjee Lee, Anna Nordqvist and Ryann O'Toole all shot 67 to share third place.

Gustafson and Lindblad met for the first time this week. They were connected by the coach for the Swedish National Team when Lindblad needed a last-minute caddie. Gustafson, who has 26 worldwide wins, played in her last major championship in 2014. When Lindblad learned that Gustafson would be on her bag at Pine Needles, she checked her caddie out on Instagram.

“I was like, ‘Whoa, she's won a couple times on tour,’” Lindblad said with a laugh.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Women’s Open

Gustafson has dabbled a bit in caddying since leaving the LPGA Tour, toting the bag for Beth Allen on the Ladies European Tour for two years. She says she’ll usually loop for a player once a year and that she last caddied in the Scandinavian Mixed in June 2021.

Gustafson played in each of Pine Needles' previous U.S. Women’s Opens (1996, '01, '07), finishing 11th in 2001. While the course underwent a significant restoration in 2017, Gustafson says she still sees a lot of similarities in her return to the course.

HLs: Lindblad shoots Rd. 1 65 at U.S. Women's Open

HLs: Lindblad shoots Rd. 1 65 at U.S. Women's Open

“It’s not hard off the tee. What you need to do is obviously place the ball on the greens, because of the falloffs,” Gustafson said. “[Ingrid is] hitting it such a long way, so if she can keep it in the fairway, it's a little wedge and then it's obviously a lot easier to stop them.”

Thursday’s grouping made for a comfortable first round as Lindblad was alongside fellow Swede Annika Sorenstam, who is making her first start in the U.S. Women’s Open since 2008.

Lindblad was shocked to see the pairing earlier this week since she has been playing in events hosted by Sorenstam’s foundation since 2014 and has gotten to know the World Golf Hall of Famer in recent years.

“She's authentic. She's got a special look, but she's a fearless player. I think she's confident in her own game,” Sorenstam said about Lindblad. “I know she doesn't shy away from the limelight that maybe I did as a young girl. I think she embraces it quite well.”

Sorenstam set the 72-hole scoring record in the U.S. Women’s Open when she won at Pine Needles in 1996. It’s a record that still stands. Thursday, Sorenstam had a front-row seat to history being made once again by a Swede at Pine Needles.