Alan Dell

Madelene Sagstrom has been smiling all the way to the bank in the Symetra Tour

Madelene Sagstrom leading money winner on Symetra Tour

Madelene Sagstrom credits attitude change for early success Video by Alan Dell
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Madelene Sagstrom credits attitude change for early success Video by Alan Dell

These days you can catch Madelene Sagstrom wearing a smile every time she walks off the golf course, regardless of her day.

It has given her a $50,000 smile that someday could be one of those million-dollar smiles we all dream about owning.

But there is no dreaming for Sagstrom. The native of Sweden has left her turmoil behind.

She is no longer beating herself up and allowing golf to dictate whether her days are going be dreary or sunny and bright.

"That's been the hardest thing -- that golf has been defining me as a person instead of being what I actually do," Sagstrom said. "I have been really doubting myself for a very long time, and now I am going to feel good about myself no matter what my score is. My mindset now makes me feel like a good person."

The 23 year old had a lot of feel good about coming into the Guardian Retirement Championship at the Sara Bay Country Club this weekend.

She won the Chico's Patty Berg Memorial last week and has finished in the top five in all three of her Symetra Tour events to enter Sara Bay with a money leading $52,914 in the Volvik Race For the Card well ahead of second- place Samantha Richdale ($29,591).

Last season, Giulia Molinaro was the first to reach $50,000, and it took her 15 events. Sagstrom is the first person to earn $50,000 in just three Symetra events, finishing third, tied for second and first.

Coming into Sara Bay, Sagstrom had only one over-par round out of 10 and was leading the tour in scoring average (69.6) and birdies (46).

Despite earning the SEC Player of Year award in 2015, Sagstrom did not expect to soar above the radar so quickly in her first professional season. But her new mindset has her flying.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself throughout the years. I've been very fo

cused on getting better and trying to be perfect on the shots," Sagstrom said. "I realized that it's not going to work and I am not going to shoot good on the course if I get mad at the smallest things."

After two rounds at Sara Bay, Sagstrom is plus 2 heading into Sunday's final round in a third-place tie behind Nicole Broch Larsen (-3) and Sara-Maude Juneau (even).

"I came out there with a goal this season to play my game and work on things that I need to get better at and that is the game plan I've stuck to so far," Sagstrom said. "I found what works for me, which is committing to shots and not caring whether the ball goes in the hole or not and enjoying every minute, appreciating being out there and just having a great time on the golf course."

Sagstrom's new attitude was put to the test at Sara Bay, a tough course that was even tougher the first day because of the wind. She took it all in stride looking at as a new adventure.

"According to the scores this is the most challenging course so far," Sagstrom said. "It is very demanding on the greens and you want to be in the right spot. But it's fun because it's different to face different things and learn because we are never going to face the same thing in any course. Things are always going to be different," Sagstrom said.

Alan Dell, Herald sports columnist/writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.

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