Pedersen Dominates Race to Costa Del Sol
Emily Kristine Pedersen won the inaugural Race to Costa del Sol in 2020 after securing five tournament wins, including four individual trophies and one team event. It was a remarkable comeback year for the 25-year-old from Copenhagen. In 2015, the young Dane won the Rookie of the Year prize after capturing the Hero Women’s Indian Open. However, after representing Europe in the 2017 Solheim Cup, she endured some tough times on the course. She never gave up and, during the first Covid lockdown, she used her downtime to take stock. The results were outstanding. In this exclusive interview, she tells us how she raised her game to dominate the official LET ranking.
Emily… how did you raise your game to such great heights in 2020?
I think Covid was good for me, because it gave me time to work on the areas that I was struggling with. I accepted where I was and, together with my coach, we said to each other before 2020 that we were starting over, like we were amateurs again. I think that helped my mindset of not expecting too much and then working very hard.
What’s your practise routine?
My daily practise routine consists of gym in the morning for one to two hours and then around six hours of golf practise. I do both lifting heavy weights and a lot of explosive work, stretching and obviously the core is so important in golf.
What really turned your game around, from a technical perspective?
I think I’m getting a lot more stable in the swing. It’s not as long and wild as it was and the club path is a lot better. It’s a lot more neutral and so it’s definitely my long game that’s turned around. My club path was either inside or outside… and a lot on either side… and so my misses would be everywhere, but mostly on the right. I had a really open clubface. Now everything’s a little bit more neutral.
What was the most important thing for you, mentally?
Mentally, I think I had to grow up a little bit from when I first came out. Well, we all do! Then, I think just accepting where I was and where my abilities were was a big thing for me. It was just not thinking, I used to be able to do this and I should be doing this and I should be doing that. I just had to accept the present and where I was: that was a big key for me.
Who helped you the most?
My coach David, I think he believed in me when I didn’t really believe in myself. He was really good at having not just golf chats but a lot of chats with me. I saw a psychologist a bit and he was really open with me and David and I could confide in him in how I felt and he didn’t once say to me that I should do something else. He was really encouraging and said to me that we’re going to get through this and find a way. I think that really helped me.
What advice would you give to other golfers, amateurs and professionals, who may be struggling with their games?
I’d say, accept where you are. It doesn’t matter what you were able to do in the past or what you think you should be able to do. You will be clear on what you need to work on if you accept where you are right now. It’s just a lot of hard work. It’s not a fancy secret: it’s about growing mentally and then putting in the hard work.
What was your favourite victory and moment of the year?
The Tipsport Czech Ladies Open was really special because it was the first time in five years that I’d won, so I could see that I was able to do it again. Then, the way I won in Saudi was special as well, because I struggled a bit twice on that final day and then I hit a really amazing shot on 18 to get into the play-off against Georgia Hall. Winning three times in a row was crazy. It’s really hard to pick.
It was a gutsy shot on 18 to get into the play-off in Saudi Arabia, hitting a 3-wood to three-feet… even your opponent Georgia Hall was clapping.
I know! She did say to me afterwards that it was really impressive and she was a little bit surprised. I said to my caddie, Mikey: it’s all or nothing. We’re all or nothing. I knew it was risky, because there was water there, but I didn’t care about finishing third, fourth or fifth. I wanted to win.
How important was it to win the Race to Costa del Sol?
I think it was important because if you win the Order of Merit, it means you’ve been good throughout the year. If you win a tournament, then that could have just been one good week, whereas if you win the Race to Costa del Sol, you’ve been playing well over a long period of time and I think that was really nice for me to be playing consistently well and kind of raising the level of my game throughout the season. It was also proving to myself that I was back, really. I played well in the Scottish and British and then won in Czech, so I had three good weeks in a row. It was nice that it wasn’t just one peak in the season but the whole season was really consistent.
How did you celebrate?
It was during Covid, so I couldn’t go out. I went on holiday to Dubai with my family and just had some beach time, drinking at noon, laying by the pool and playing Backgammon and I hadn’t done that in 12 years.
Having down time obviously didn’t affect your performance this year.
I’ve not had any top results yet, but the game is really going in the right direction, so hopefully soon.
What did you do with your earnings? Did you buy yourself anything special?
I bought myself a Trackman after my first win, so that was nice. I had a few debts to pay off after two years of struggles. When you’ve not had any money for a while, you get a bit more cautious about spending it.
How important is it to have a Race to play for?
It’s good because it motivates you to keep doing well. It’s good to push harder and it makes every tournament count. Even if you’re not in it for the win, you’re still pushing for points. Even the weeks you’re struggling, it makes it still worth fighting for.
How important was the support of your boyfriend, Olly Brett, who caddies for Danielle Kang?
It’s really good that he understands the game. I think it would be difficult to explain to someone who didn’t know golf. He always believed that I would get it back and I could do it. He’s always given me a lot of room and said to stay home, to do my practise. He’s never made me feel bad for doing really long hours, because it needs a lot of hours. He’s always given me space and said make golf your priority, so he’s been a massive support. He’s never made me feel bad for not prioritising him or coming to him. Any time he’s had a week off and was able to, he made time and flew to see me, so that’s been a massive support.
Danielle Kang won two consecutive LPGA events after the pandemic break in 2020. Did her success motivate you and spur you on?
Yes! I won three (in a row), so… yes, it did!
How competitive are you and Olly? Do you ever have wagers against each other?
When we are playing in the same events, the one who finishes the highest is paying for the Sunday meal. We are competitive and I know he’s betted on quite a few events and put money on me. In Saudi, I think he won about £4000 that week, so that was quite cool. We are a bit competitive like that.
You went to watch The Masters at Augusta National will Olly. What was that like? Did it motivate you?
Augusta was absolutely amazing: what a place. There weren’t a lot of people so we got to see everything and every hole.
What are your goals for 2021?
I want to win again. Hopefully I can get to the top of the Race to Costa Del Sol again and I want to get my LPGA card as well and then do well in the Olympics and Solheim.
You played in the Solheim Cup in 2017 as one of Annika’s picks. How did you find the experience and how much would you like to qualify for Team Europe this time?
I think I would like to qualify for the Solheim Cup. The last Solheim was when my bad period started and I think I’m a very different person now to who I was four years ago. I would like to come back and not just be on the team, but be a factor on the team and win points for Europe. I would love to do that. The same thing for the Olympics.
Whom would you most like to play against and why in the Solheim Cup?
I would quite like to play against Danielle again, just because I played against her the last time. It’s mixed feelings about that. I would love to beat her, because she beat me last time, but it would be weird to play against Olly. She’s usually very nice to me!
You and Nanna Koerstz Madsen were leading the LET Solheim Cup points list early in the 2021 season. Would you like to play with her as a partner?
I could. We’ve played together a lot before when we were younger in club championships and foursomes and I don’t think we’ve ever lost, so that would be a good foursome, I think.
Tell us about your lifelong rivalry and association with Nanna.
We grew up together, so we’ve always been battling about who was the best in the golf club and then who was the best in the national team and stuff like that. I think the rivalry has pushed us a lot and kept the fire when we were struggling and it’s been good for both of us to have that. I’m not sure we would have made it this far without pushing each other at such an early age.
What would it mean to represent Denmark in the Olympic Games?
It would mean a lot. We always had Denmark on the clothes as amateurs and it is special to represent your country. I think with both the Olympics and the Solheim, it’s about more than golf, it’s about more than ourselves. Golf is a bit of a selfish sport. It’s all about you and suddenly you have two weeks that are not about you, it’s about your country and your team and I think that’s something that’s really special. It’s weird with the Olympics, because it wasn’t an option when I was growing up. It was all about Majors. The Olympics is big: it’s different playing for your country.August 26, 2021 7:49 am