By Kent Gray
The meteoric rise of Julia Engström will ensure the Swedish teen is one of the most closely watched players at next month’s OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic.
While fans won’t be permitted on the Faldo layout at Emirates Golf Club for the $285,000 Ladies European Tour (LET) event courtesy of COVID-19 precautions, the 19-year-old hopes her presence proves inspirational for the next generation watching at home on television.
Engström has stormed to the top of the 2021 Solheim Cup Points leaderboard and sits second in the LET’s Race to Costa Del Sol (Order of Merit) standings after a breakout 2020. She captured her maiden title at the NSW Open in Australia before the outbreak of the pandemic and backed it up with a second LET win at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France last month. Her win in France was sealed with a final round 64 and included a hole in one. But more impressive is how Engström has kept her eye on the ball education-wise as she’s gone about etching one of the most promising young CVs in the women’s game.
“I only turned professional three years ago at the age of 16, which, at such young age, gave me little choice but to continue with my studies,” said Engström.
“However, I felt it was important to continue this process and ensure I have a life outside of golf. I bring my computer and books with me wherever I’ve had to travel for tournaments. I use any downtime to study and ensure my grades remain high. Of course, it’s difficult and sometimes hard to find the energy to do both, luckily though my school have been very understanding and I have been fortunate that a lot of my fellow pupils are athletes too, which is helpful.”
Engström is looking forward to teeing it up in the November 4-6 Pro-Am at Emirates G.C. and hopes she can show great golf and good grades aren’t mutually exclusive.
“Being able to inspire other girls to pursue their dreams is very exciting,” she said.
“If that remains the case I want to keep working hard and improve my game in all areas, so that others watching me play in Dubai are excited by what I’ve been able to achieve at a young age and consider to take up the game themselves.
“We’re very lucky to play golf alongside so many other inspiring women and to be able to travel to places such as Dubai to compete makes us very fortunate. My advice to any young girls watching us play this November is to just keep playing the game and to have fun whilst doing so. If you enjoy what you are doing the results will come.”
In its second season as the rebranded OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic, the event has been switched from May to November after achieving global recognition as the world’s first professional day-night tour event last year.
Formerly the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters, the emirate’s LET stop was first played in 2006. Annika Sorenstam, a two-time winner, Lexi Thompson and four-time champion Shanshan Feng, highlight an impressive roll-call of champions.