TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Former Seminole golfer Matilda Castren has enjoyed quite a month.
The two-time Florida State All-American earned her first LPGA Tour victory at the MEDIHEAL Championship on June 15. She became the first player from Finland to win in the LPGA, and did so in only her 15th career LPGA event. Two weeks later, she came within one stroke of defeating the former No. 1 ranked golfer in the world, Jin Young Ko, at the Volunteers of America Classic. Castren then won the Gant Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour on July 17 in her home country of Finland.
Castren’s victory at the Gant Ladies Open is significant because she is now eligible to be selected to play on the prestigious European Solheim Cup team. The U.S.-European Solheim Cup competition will be played September 4-6, 2021 at the Inverness Club in Toledo. It’s the first time since 2017 the event will be played on U.S. soil.
And that’s not all she’s done in the last 35 days.
While Castren, 26, was building her professional career over the past month, she was named to represent Finland in the Tokyo Olympics.
“Being named to represent Finland is a great honor for me,” said Castren. “Representing my country is something I have dreamed of since I was a little kid and watching the Olympics. When golf became an Olympic sport it was immediately something I wanted to compete in.”
Castren is the first Seminole golfer who will play in the Olympics.
Currently ranked 58th in the world, Castren has improved her Women’s World Golf Ranking by 158 spots since the beginning of the 2021 LPGA season. Her win in the MEDIHEAL Championship allowed her to crack the top-100 in the World Golf Rankings for the first time in her career.
As the individual winner of the MEDIHEAL Championship, she defeated three top-10 players including Inbee Park, the former No. 1 ranked player in the world.
Castren, who earned All-American honors at Florida State in 2014 and 2017, and who holds the Seminoles record for career wins (seven) was selected along with Sanna Nuutinen as the two-member women’s golf duo to represent Finland. The golfers will compete in 72-hole stroke-play tournaments held at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kasahata, Saitama, Japan. The field in both the men’s and women’s golf events will consist of 60 players representing their respective home countries.
The women’s stroke play championship at the Tokyo Olympics is scheduled for August 5-8.
Castren was selected to represent Finland on the basis of her World Golf Ranking. Her win at the MEDIHEAL put her at No. 30 in the Olympic Golf Rankings. With that first LPGA win, she became the top ranked golfer from Finland in the 60-player Olympic field, solidifying her trip to Tokyo.
Castren graduated from Florida State on May 6, 2017 with a degree in International Affairs. She was an All-American Second-Team selection by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association and GolfWeek in 2014, an All-American Honorable Mention by the WGCA and All-American Third Team selection by GolfWeek in 2017. Castren was a three-time All-ACC selection (2014, 2016 and 2017) and is one of only five players in school history to earn All-ACC honors at least three times as a Seminole.
Castren still reigns as Florida State’s all-time leader with seven career individual victories. Her victories came at the spring 2016 NCAA Shoal Creek Regional Championship (T1), spring 2016 Florida Challenge (T1), spring 2015 Jacksonville Classic (1), spring 2014 Marsh Landing Intercollegiate, spring 2014 Florida State Match-Up (1), the fall 2016 Jim West Challenge (1) and the spring 2017 Clemson Invitational, and she is still the all-time program leader with 24 career top 10 finishes. She earned medalist honors at the 2016 NCAA Shoal Creek Regional Championships and became only the second player in school history to win an individual championship at an NCAA regional championship.
Castren’s career stroke average of 72.52 was the school record at the time of her graduation. She is currently ranked third in school history for career stroke average.
Castren played two seasons on the Symetra Tour in 2018 and 2019, before earning her card for the 2020 LPGA Tour. In only six starts in 2020, she earned enough to qualify via the money list for her first major, the 2020 Women’s PGA Championship. Castren was tied for ninth after the first round and finished the tournament in a tie for 23rd place.
“What a tremendous accomplishment for Matilda to represent Finland in the Tokyo Olympics,” said Seminole Head Coach Amy Bond. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for her and I could not be more proud of Matilda to represent her country. This will be the second time golf will be in the Olympics and be certain that I will be glued to the broadcast. Matilda is FSU Golf’s first Olympian and I can’t wait to watch.”
For Castren, this past month has been a whirlwind.
“It has been a crazy month with my first LPGA win and my first LET win,” said Castren. “I knew to be eligible for the Solheim Cup, I needed LET membership, and in the middle of the year, winning was the only option to achieve that. I came to Finland wanting to give myself a chance and it’s crazy that I was able to pull that off.
“I’ve been playing some great golf in the past couple of months and It’s just awesome to see all of the hard work me and my team have been putting in pay off. I’m so happy and grateful for all of the success and hope that I can continue my success this week at another major championship and then, of course, in the Olympics.”
Castren is certainly looking forward to her trip to Japan and realizing a lifelong dream of playing in the Olympics.
“I feel that pride every time I have a Finnish flag on my shirt,” said Castren. “It’s a special feeling and really cool to be able to call myself an Olympian.”