Stars of 2017 - Anna Nordqvist
Anna Nordqvist's roller coaster season has seen her battle back from illness to play a starring role in defeat at The Solheim Cup before doubling her major tally at the Evian Championship.
After a bright start to 2017, which saw her win on the LPGA for a seventh time at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, Nordqvist's year took an unexpected turn as she was diagnosed with mononucleosis (mono). For most this misfortune would cause the season to effectively be written off, given the condition's notoriety for causing extreme fatigue and not to mention serious pain and discomfort.
In a sport where energy, focus, comfort and concentration are paramount such a diagnosis this was a hammer-blow but Nordqvist wasn't done. A year that so easily could have gone down as the most frustrating of her career has ultimately proved to have been the Swede's most impressive yet.
Though she was ranked higher than any other European in the Rolex Rankings going into The Solheim Cup, illness nearly robbed her of her place at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. A pick from compatriot and captain Annika Sorenstam meant that Nordqvist was able to tee it up for Team Europe despite missing out on fulfilling the criteria for automatic qualification but that guaranteed nothing. With so little meaningful competitive action and practice under her belt going into the week in Iowa there could be no confidence that Nordqvist would be able to perform at anything like her best.
Any fears were soon put to rest however. Team Europe may have been soundly beaten overall but Anna Nordqvist's performance (3.5 points from a possible 4) will go down as one of the best in a losing effort in the history of the event, particularly given the circumstances surrounding her participation in proceedings.
Just a month on from her Solheim heroics she would remarkably end her eight-year wait for a second major victory at The Evian Championship in France.
A final round 66 including a pair of eagles saw Europe's finest leapfrog some of the biggest names in the women's game, including Lydia Ko, Sung-hyun Park and Shanshan Feng, to end atop the leader board with America's Brittany Altomare and set up a playoff.
A near-farcical spell of golf would follow as Altomare and Nordqvist went head-to-head in a playoff contested in just about as bad a weather as it is possible to imagine for playing golf. It is not often that making a bogey can be considered a great thing at the top level of the game but Nordqvist's at the first extra hole was as good as a bogey gets. In biting cold and driving rain and wind that was sapping any feel from the competitors' hands a five was enough for the resilient Swede to get across the line.
2017, despite all the challenges it presented (and there were many), is the year where Anna Nordqvist firmly established herself as the leading light in European women's golf. Can she now press on in 2018 and further cement herself in this position?