KPMG Women's PGA Championship - Round One
Credit: PGA of America via Getty Images

Three-time KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner Annika Sorenstam turns 50 on October 9th, but three of her countrywomen gave her something to celebrate early at Aronimink Golf Club.

Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, Pernilla Lindberg, and Linnea Strom all finished under par for their first rounds at Aronimink, with Strom leading the way at 2-under.

Lindberg and Nordqvist, major champions both, were a shot back at 1-under.

Strom, a rookie on the LPGA Tour in 2019, has two top-10’s on the LPGA Tour this season. She is seventh on Tour in Driving Distance and used that her advantage Thursday at the tough Aronimink layout.

“My driving was really good today, so I think for sure it's an advantage, especially in this wind,” said Strom of the brisk Thursday conditions.

“I think when I started today and my mindset going in this morning was just to try and play smart and hit as many greens as possible. The greens are pretty big, so even if you're on the green you can have some really long putts. But yeah, I just tried to find good spots on the green and hit some good putts.”

Strom, who missed the cut at last year’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (her only other appearance) helped lead the Arizona State Sun Devils to an NCAA National Championship in 2017 after being a longtime member of the Swedish National Golf Team.

She first met Sorenstam was she was 12 years old at a junior camp.

“After that camp that was when I decided that I wanted to turn pro and I wanted to be an LPGA star,” said Strom. “So (Sorenstam) has for sure motivated and inspired me to be where I am today, so I'm very thankful for that.

Lindberg, who won the 2018 ANA Inspiration, had four birdies and three bogeys Thursday. Nordqvist, meanwhile, is a past KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner (2009) and added to her major championship trophy case with a 2017 victory at The Evian Championship.

“It's always going to be one of my prouder moments, winning a major and having your name, having your parking spot. You know, at registration on Sunday and Monday, seeing the trophy and seeing your name on it,” said Nordqvist, who had three birdies and two bogeys Thursday. “It's such a proud moment and no one can ever take that away from me.”

Nordqvist said overall she played solid, relying on a hot putter and a steady tee-to-green game to leave her red figures heading into Friday’s second round.

“I felt like I hit a lot of really good shots today,” said Nordqvist. “There was a lot of release on the greens. I'm not one of the longer hitters out there so you're going to have some longer clubs in. But I felt overall it was really solid. Felt like I putted really solid. I wasn't really in trouble all day. Definitely happy with my start.”

So to, most likely, was Sorenstam of the Swedes near the lead.

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