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Championship Mindset presented by AXA XL: Emily Pedersen comes back | LPGA

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Emily K. Pedersen’s story is not new. It’s just unique.

Pedersen rose through the Danish junior ranks to earn Rookie of the Year honors on the Ladies European Tour at the age of 18, only to lose his LPGA Tour card within two years and drop out of the top 500 of the Rolex Women’s World Golf. Rankings. For most players, it’s far too deep a cave to climb out of. But this is where Pedersen’s story is different. She didn’t just return to the top of the women’s game, she came back even better than when she started. And she did it by rearranging her mindset.

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Pedersen followed the pattern of so many great champions who have come through the game. She started playing at the age of 10, disbanded her junior competition and by the age of 12 had qualified for the Danish national team.

She demonstrated her strength as a competitor early on with victories at the British Ladies Amateur Championship and the European Ladies Amateur Championship. With a fourth-place finish at the Ladies European Tour qualifying school, she turned professional at 18 and made a seemingly easy transition. She won in her first season on the LET at the Hero Women’s Indian Open.

“I want to be world No. 1 one day, hopefully,” Pedersen said after a decorated rookie stint. “I hope I win the Order of Merit, and I hope I win the CME Globe on the LPGA. I hope for many more victories, both on the European Tour and on the LPGA.

Pettersen’s rookie performance earned him the attention of Annika Sorenstam, who captained European Cup team Solheim in 2017, and she picked Pedersen to join her team competing in Des Moines , Iowa. That same year, Pedersen also played his first full season on the LPGA Tour.

That’s when everything changed.

For many who make an impressive rise through the junior and amateur ranks, the promise is often lost when transitioning into professional life. We realize that golf is difficult and that professional golf is even more so. But Pedersen seems to have understood this with his first successes on the LET. What has changed with the Solheim Cup?

For Pedersen, it was too much, too soon.

When Pedersen lost each of her games in Des Moines, she struggled to deal with questions and criticism surrounding her selection to the team. His ability to block out outside noise had a mental impact.

“I think maybe I wasn’t ready; I was upset and it hit me. I didn’t do my best, but having people criticize me as a choice meant I had to put all my energy into proving to myself and others that I was good enough to be a part of the team,” Pedersen said. of his Solheim experience.

“Before this week, and every week since I was 14, all I thought about was the round ahead of me and my development as a golfer. But my focus changed. I listened too much to the crowd .

Pedersen’s struggles continued on the LPGA Tour. She made 11 of 35 cuts during the 2017 and 2018 seasons on the LPGA Tour. In 2019, she returned to the LET after making just one cut in seven starts.

In 2020, the COVID break gave Pedersen a well-deserved chance to regroup. She saw an opportunity to approach quarantine differently from her counterparts.

“I sat down with my coach in March and he said, ‘How are we getting through this lockdown better than everyone else? And that motivated me. If I hadn’t had my difficulties, I don’t think I would have learned.

Pedersen met with a psychologist. She has learned to separate her identity on the golf course from who she is as a person. With this new mindset and recharged for a return to competition, Pedersen emerged from hiatus as a world beater. She made history with four straight wins to close out the 2020 LET season and earned the Order of Merit. She came close to winning for the first time on the LPGA Tour the same year, losing in the playoffs to Stacy Lewis at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open 2020.

“I think I was something like 500 in the world when I went to this event last year, and obviously I’m a little more confident this year,” Pedersen said after his second place finish. “But I’m happy to be where I am. I’m happy to have grown compared to last year, but I’m still trying to grow. I always try to accomplish much more than what I have. But these are only good steps in the right direction.

Those positive steps continued into 2021 as Pedersen tied for fifth at the Tokyo Olympics and contributed 3½ points for European Cup side Solheim en route to victory at Inverness Club in 2021. Pedersen then decided to make a return to the LPGA Tour at the eight-shot gauntlet known as the Q-Series.

“I feel like I’m a better player now than I was the last time I was in the LPGA, so the goal is definitely to get back there.”

Better equipped to handle the pressures and challenges that come with competing on the LPGA Tour, Pedersen finished tied for 14th in the Q-Series to earn his card once again. In 2022, Pedersen reached a career-high No. 65 in the Rolex rankings.

Although his background is not new, it is certainly unique. The setbacks she faced were enough to make a weaker player quit. But Pedersen has shown she has the mindset of a champion to take on the toughest challenges, learning from her mistakes to grow stronger not only as a person, but also as a player.

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