Spurred by her passion for golf and studying the European Tour format, Icelandic golfer Olafia Kristinsdottir became the first golfer from the island nation to play on the European Tour when she competed last year in the Final Qualifying Series, tying for 38th place in the four-round Portuguese Masters.
Kristinsdottir is the first golf professional from Iceland in 21 years. Her victory at the European Tour qualifying school was earned in 2009, giving her a foothold on the tour she had to fight to gain.
When Kristinsdottir stepped off the first tee of the 18th hole on the first day of the 18-hole practice round she hit her tee shot way left off the tee. Her approach shot hit the trees and bounced off the rough toward the other side of the fairway. Kristinsdottir, however, put a tee shot in the short grass by going for her shot, and struck a standard shot that stopped on the green of the green within 10 feet of the hole.
“It was pretty insane that I hit my first shot on the first hole right where I was supposed to,” she told reporters. “I thought, ‘Well, this isn’t too bad.’”
Kristinsdottir said she was aware of the tiny nation’s history of producing golfers, but “I didn’t know we had played on the European Tour in the early days.”
“I knew we had been training for a long time, but we didn’t know anything about competing on the European Tour until I got on the European Tour and saw my friends playing,” she said.
Kristinsdottir became Iceland’s eighth golf prodigy when she was just 12. She went on to travel throughout the world, participating in six European and four American Amateur Championships. Kristinsdottir is recognized as a role model for young athletes on the island. The golf association in Iceland placed her on the cover of a recent magazine article featuring four of its rising golf stars. She was also invited to attend an audition by the European Tour for its 17th season and could have gotten her ticket to the European Tour this year.
“I am one of the youngest girls on tour but I am considered by the European Tour as one of the best on tour,” she said. “In the end, it doesn’t matter if you are the youngest or the oldest because golf is a very tough game and you have to work hard. There is a high level of talent everywhere and it can be anyone’s game, but the big difference is having patience and a great mental attitude.”
Kristinsdottir has a new goal for this year and is embracing life on the European Tour.
“I am now thinking about my future and how to continue the European Tour,” she said. “One thing that excites me about the European Tour is that it gives you a chance to play against the best in the world and if you’re good enough you will get the chance to play in the Majors and a Ryder Cup. That’s what I want to do.”
The 31-year-old golf professional was accompanied by her parents for the entire trip and so what she did wasn’t surprising. However, having her parents involved in her life has helped Kristinsdottir’s childhood dreams become a reality.
“I told my parents it is a good thing they are here with me to help me out,” she said. “It means a lot that my parents are traveling with me because it shows them that I am doing well.”
Kristinsdottir will look to maintain her position on the European Tour when the 2019 season gets underway at the LG International Open in Springfield, Va.