Julia Engström is enjoying being back at the Women’s NSW Open – the tournament where she clinched her first LET title back in 2020, and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 21-year-old returns as defending champion, albeit a year or so later than she expected.
“It’s very nice to be back,” Engstrom smiled. “Last time was my first win on the LET and it was such an amazing feeling, so it definitely brings back some memories,” said the 2018 LET Rookie of the Year.
Engstrom claimed her Dubbo crown with a thrilling birdie on the final hole; Her tee shot on the par three almost dropped in for an ace to the delight of the ecstatic crowd at Dubbo Golf club.
Victory at the Women’s NSW Open in 2020 was the first on the LET for Engström, and she followed it up later that year by winning the Lacoste Ladies Open de France.
Sadly, the Swedish wonderkid had to pull out of the season-ending Race to Costa Del Sol Finale; however, she still managed to finish in second place courtesy of an additional three top-ten finishes.
Engstorm said being forced to sit out the entire 2021 season due to her back troubles was tough, but when she realised it was going to be a far longer break from the sport what she had anticipated, she found several ways to keep herself occupied.
“I had two slipped discs in my back which made my legs numb and the nerves were stuck.
“I didn’t have surgery so it was so frustrating just waiting it out and just hoping that it would get better so I could play again,” she said.
“At the beginning I didn’t do a lot, I did a lot of rehab to try and get back playing golf, but then I realised I couldn’t,” she explained.
“I did some studies at university and tried to give myself something to do because otherwise I’d go crazy. I was helping out at my local golf club as well.
“Plus, I got to spend time with family and friends that I hadn’t seen as much in the previous years and because Sweden didn’t have lockdowns it meant I was able to do most things as normal.”
Fast forward to this week, and Engstrom is simply delighted to be back playing. She returned to the LET earlier this year in the Magical Kenya Ladies Open, and her first task is to simply re-establish herself on Tour.
After five events in 2022, the 2017 PING Junior Solheim Cup player is optimistic about where her game is, and her expectations for this year and beyond.
“It has been great to be back, but it has been tough,” she explained. “I’m just trying to keep playing and getting back into it and hopefully, I’ll play my way back.
“I think the important thing is to get back to playing and get some more rounds and holes of golf in the body and in the system.
“I’m seeing some bits of my game turning out the way I want to.
“I’m trying to get all of the different parts of the game together at the same time, and then I think we’ll be fine.”