Who is Karin Sjodin?
There's something... strange going on in the final round of the year's first major, the LPGA's Kraft Nabisco Championship. World No. 1 Yani Tseng is struggling, and little-known Swedish journeywoman Karin Sjodin -- who's currently ranked 216th in the world -- seems in charge of the tournament with nine holes left to play. So who exactly is this six-year LPGA Tour veteran who's wowed LPGA fans this week with her ever-present grin and powerful swing? Here are a few facts about the likeable bomber.
The 28-year-old Sjodin grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden -- the same town Helen Alfredsson, Catrin Nilsmark, Carin Koch and Fredrik Jacobson are from. Her European amateur career included a Swedish Junior Amateur title and a European Team Championship title. Sjodin played college golf at Oklahoma State University, where she won three events and was awarded the 2005 Dinah Shore Trophy and Edith Cummings Munson Golf Award (both given to a student who's excelled academically as well as with her game). She was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, Second-Team All-Big 12 in 2003, First-Team Academic All-American from 2003-05, NCAA individual runner-up in 2004 and First-Team All-Big 12 in 2004 and 2005. Distance has always been Sjodin's strength; she won the LPGA driving-average stats her first two years on tour (2006 and 2007, with averages of 284 and 275 yards respectively). A wrist injury and subsequent surgery curbed her bombing abilities slightly, but she is back to averaging 284 yards off the tee this week. Sjodin has only managed four top-10 finishes in her six years on the LPGA Tour, and she's never before made the cut at the Kraft Nabisco.
She studied physics at Oklahoma State, and she's an ace ping-pong player. After admittedly "living off her long drives" as a youngster (she was invited to the World Long Drive Championship in 2006, where she finished 7th) and consequently struggling once she turned pro and found that many of her competitors were just as long, Sjodin now leads the 2012 LPGA Tour in greens in regulation.
Will the Cinderella story continue? On pace for a six-hour round, we should (hopefully) know before the sun goes down.