Linnea Strom knows all too well when it’s too cold to play golf in her homeland of Sweden. There’s a not-too-subtle hint.
That would be when the fairways are covered in ice in November, it’s time to find an alternative course.
So, there Strom was Saturday, striding the green, lush and meticulously groomed fairways of Biltmore Golf Course in the Junior Orange Bowl International Golf Championship, and she was making the most of it in mid-70-degrees temperatures.
Her game was meticulous as the course, with five birdies, one bogey and 12 pars for a 4-under-par 67 to take the first-day lead against many of the elite junior girls in the world.
When last in Sweden, Strom, 18, was hitting from a multilevel driving range under a heat lamp while trying to figure the right layer of clothing to not freeze but also to not impede her swing.
“I like Miami, I like this tournament,” Strom, 18, said of the city and the tepid temperatures she was playing in, compared with the mid-teens occurring back home in Gothenburgh, Sweden.
Strom needs to get use to the United States and warmer climes, as she graduates from high school this year and then will head to Arizona State on a golf scholarship.
“My coach had some contacts in Arizona, and he thought Arizona State would be a good place for me,” she said. “You can practice there all year-round, and that will be unusual for me.
“It will be far away from home, but I’m excited. My parents don’t want me to leave, except they want me to be the best golfer I can be.”
Strom started playing golf when she was a 4-year-old and eventually gave up riding horses and tennis to devote more time to golf.
The allure of golf to her?
“It’s something you can practice over and over, but you can never be perfect,” she said. “You can be happy playing it, but you also always want to get better.”
This is Strom’s third year in the OB tournament. She finished fifth two years ago and third a year ago. If you are into mathematical progressions, that bodes well for Strom, who holds a one-stroke lead over Colombia’s Maria Hoyos and France’s Agathe Laisne.
“I feel it will be tough to win, you have to go low every day — like under par,” Strom said. “But if I play well, I think I can shoot four rounds under par.”
In the boys’ competition, Belgium’s Giovanni Tadiotto and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, both 16, tied for the first-round lead, shooting 4-under 67s. One stroke back were Argentina’s Alejandro Tosti and the Czech Republic’s Vitek Nova’k.
Tadiotto rallied late with three consecutive birdies on holes 13, 14, 15.
“I hit the ball well but missed four greens and was able to chip and putt three of them [for par],” Tadiotto said.
The second round of the four-day tournament tees off at 7 a.m. Sunday. Admission is free.