Sweden’s Linnea Strom shoots 60 in historic comeback victory at ShopRite LPGA Classic

June 10, 2024

The Shoprite LPGA Classic was 54 holes jam-packed with history. There were two chances at the tour’s second-ever round of 59. Sunday, Linnea Strom missed an eagle pitch from 50 yards out to shoot 59, birdieing the 469-yard par 5 18th at Seaview’s Bay Course to post a historic 60, surging from tied for last at T-52 to seize the clubhouse lead at 14 under par. Friday, Arpichaya Yubol had a wedge in for an eagle on 18th and settled for par to card 10-under 61.

Strom’s clubhouse lead held on for more than four hours and fended off two contenders who had chances to tie on the last hole.

Here’s how Strom, who birdied her 36th hole just to make the cut, earned her first career LPGA title to shatter the tour’s previous record held by Ayako Okamoto at the 1987 Lady Keystone Open (T-23) for the biggest comeback by position.

Strom’s 60 joins Jessica Korda (2021 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions), Paula Creamer (2008 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic), Anna Acker-Macosko (2004 Longs Drugs Challenge), Jung Yeon Lee (2004 Welch’s-Fry’s Championship), Meg Mallon (2003 Welch’s-Fry’s Championship) as the co-owners of the second-best round in the LPGA’s 75-year history.

What sets Strom’s 60 apart is that hers was the only one as a closing round for a winner. She bested Hall-of-Famer Inbee Park’s 61 at the 2014 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.

Annika Sorenstam’s 59 at the 2001 Standard Register Ping, even though threatened twice this week, stands alone as the best round in tour history.

Strom trailed 36-hole leader Jenny Shin by seven, while another Swede Linn Grant trailed by 11and both came back to win.

Khang and Furue walk away with a consolation prize of bolstering their Olympic hopes with the finalization of the field only weeks away. The American dropped to 16th in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings at the start of the week, one spot away from being eligible for the field in Paris. Countries can have up to two representatives unless they have more than two within the top 15 of the world rankings. The U.S. currently has Nelly Korda (first), Lilia Vu (second), and Rose Zhang (eighth) in its top three. Khang’s runner-up should move her comfortably within the top 15.

Furue (22nd) is battling for the second spot from Japan after Yuka Saso (sixth) lept up the rankings following her U.S. Women’s Open victory. Furue’s T-2 finish should surpass Nasa Hataoka (19th) after Hataoka was DQ’d following the first round for signing an incorrect scorecard after taking too long to look for her ball.

The 60-player Olympic field will be selected following the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on June 24.

Strom finished the round of her life close to when leaders teed off in Galloway, N.J. The Swede teed off at 8:20 a.m. in the third pairing of the day. Strom ended her six-under 31 front nine with a momentum-building chip-in eagle on the 462-yard par-5 ninth.

“My eagle on number nine kind of was a little bit of a turning point, because I just came off a birdie on number eight and then eagle on nine,” Strom said.

Strom birdied the 10th for a six under over six-hole stretch. The 27-year-old cooled down for three holes before a scoring barrage to close, birdieing four of her final five holes to win with a 60 with only 20 putts on Seaview’s poa annua greens.

She waited in the clubhouse with her dad, who flew in from Sweden to watch her for the week, to have an extended lunch and view the rest of the field trying to match her. The Arizona State product stretched and warmed up while Furue and Khang, the only two players to get within a stroke of her lead, were striving to catch her.

Furue went out in five under and birdied the 13th to get to 13 under. But despite getting to the back of the 18th green in two, Furue parred for a bogey-free 65 to end up a shot shy of the lead.

Khang, 2023 CPKC Women’s Open winner, caught fire on the back nine, carding four birdies on the first six holes of the closing side to match Strom at 14 under. A missed three-footer on the 16th put Khang a shot behind that she’d never get back. Khang gave herself a chance to tie by getting greenside in two on the final par 5, but trundled her first chip through the green. Her second chip nestled two feet from the cup.

“It wasn’t terrible being at the back of the green, but just didn’t execute my chip the way I wanted to,” Khang said. “Funny enough, the birdie chip, gave it a pretty good run itself.”

According to KPMG Insights, Strom’s win probability at the start of the round was .001 percent. Per the National Weather Service, you’re more than five times more likely to be struck by lightning (1 in 15,300) in your lifetime than Strom’s odds of victory.

“[I] really did not expect this waking up today,” Strom said. “This is proof that you should never give up. Just go out there and give it your all.”

-Atthaya Thitikul earned her third consecutive top 10 finish, along with a T-7 at the Mizuho Americas Open and a T-6 at the U.S. Women’s Open. The former world No. 1 got her season started late at the Chevron Championship due to recovering from a left thumb injury over the offseason.

-Marina Alex (-10, sixth) earned back-to-back top 10s for the first time since April 2022, when the 33-year-old won her second career title at the 2022 Palos Verdes Championship.