Anna Nordqvist’s AIG Women’s Open triumph was testament to resilience and determination – and the inspiration of family and friends, says husband Kevin McAlpine.
Anna and Kevin – the former Scottish Amateur champion and caddie for PGA Tour Scot Martin Laird – were due on an 8 am flight back to their home in the US so celebrations among the enlarged clan were meant to be muted on Sunday night.
But the value of having such close support and the battles through Covid and illness – she was laid low by the after-effects of glandular fever for months – were what helped Nordqvist to win a third major title after a four-year gap.
‘There’s no doubt she deserves this’
“Apart maybe from Alyth, there’s no other better place to win a tournament than Carnoustie,” said Kevin, who learned his game with Dad Hamish – the Dundee United legend – at the Perthshire club.
“Just to see all the hard work she has put in being rewarded is fantastic. There’s no doubt she deserves it. I’ll admit that I don’t like watching. I think it’s down to the fact I’ve played myself, not in that position admittedly, but it’s a similar feeling.”
He admitted being amazed at the way his wife coped with two horseshoed putts and a drive into a ditch and still came through to win the title.
“I don’t know how you deal with those putts,” he said. “The one at the first was from 15 feet, so that’s not so bad, but the one at 11 from five feet for birdie was a sore one and I can only imagine what that felt like at the time.”
“I know her game. When she started missing a few drives to the right – the first one was on the 10th and I’ve not seen her hit the ball that far off the fairway for years – that was a little concerning.
“But she steadied the ship after that, so it might have been a good thing as she refocused.
‘The girls are unbelievable’
“It’s hard to win at any level, it really is, never mind at this level. You see the girls and they are unbelievable. She showed her class towards the end, she really did.”
“Anna played the last four holes really well all week. To make par on the last to win was superb.”
Kevin’s long-time friend Paul Cormack, from Banchory, is Anna’s caddie, and it’s a job he’ll never do himself.
“I don’t think she could win the British Open with me on the bag, or stay married if we did,” he laughed. “Paul’s very similar to myself, he was a player to a good standard and he’s done a great job for her.
“I think the home support she had was crucial. Only Louise (Duncan) and Kelsey (MacDonald) would have had more support this week. I don’t think people realise how much that helps.
“We had I don’t know how many people here, all family and friends, and it’s been a great thing. We have that early flight and we’d just planned a quiet one with the family and a curry tonight, but we’ll see.”
Wedding party due next year, but married in March
— LPGA Media (@LPGAMedia) August 22, 2021
Kevin and Anna had planned a big family wedding for 2020, but had to postpone it for a year because of Covid. They’ve since had to postpone it again until next August. However they got married with a few friends present and family on Zoom in March.
“We didn’t want to wait any more. To be fair I might have lost the ring had we waited any longer,” said Kevin.
Kevin did previously caddie for Lexi Thompson on the LPGA when he first met Anna – “one of the worst days of my life” was when his boss and then girlfriend played against each other in the Solheim Cup in Iowa in 2017.
He now works for Laird but the PGA and LPGA Tours aren’t often in the same regions.
‘Anna’s the most important thing for me’
“I’m still working for Martin right now but Anna’s the most important thing for me. We’ll do whatever she wants to do,” said Kevin.
“It is difficult. Playing on tour is hard, caddying is hard, and being away from home and apart makes it even worse. We were hardly apart for four years.
“We just met randomly on tour and hit it off. She’s one of the nicest human beings I’ve met in my life.
“I think I’ve brought her out of her shell a little. Golf’s been her whole thing, and I know what that’s like. You can get caught up in that but there’s more to life than that. I think she realises that now.”