We’ve seen Annika Sorenstam play a bit since her retirement in 2008—most not too long ago she teamed together with her father in final month’s PNC Championship—however by no means in a contest that put her alongside present LPGA Tour gamers. Her look, then, at this week’s Diamond Resorts Event of Champions can be her first, though it’s not what you could be pondering. The 50-year-old World Golf Corridor of Famer is collaborating within the superstar discipline at 4 Seasons Golf & Sports activities Membership in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., the place opponents play their very own ball in modified Stableford format. Every is paired with LPGA professionals taking part in in their very own 72-hole stroke-play occasion. So Sorenstam isn’t formally making an LPGA begin, however she can be paired with present LPGA champions, which can be fairly enjoyable to look at.
Although that is essentially the most aggressive occasion Sorenstam has performed since her retirement, she insists it’s not step one in an even bigger comeback plan. A part of her partnership with Diamond Resorts is that in future years her basis’s match, The Annika Invitational, can be performed at a close-by course, across the identical time because the TOC. The junior ladies taking part in in that occasion can be concerned within the LPGA match, getting invites to post-round concert events and getting to fulfill gamers.
“I’ve had sufficient house from my aggressive years that I’m OK with the place I’m at proper now,” Sorenstam informed Golf Digest throughout an interview final month. “This isn’t a second profession or second wind or something like that. It’s extra to create consciousness of this match, ladies’s golf and proceed my ardour by the muse. It’s simply one other approach of doing it.”
This week, Sorenstam reiterated the significance of discovering methods to develop the ladies’s sport when explaining why she went forward and accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump earlier this month. Sorenstam obtained the award, together with Gary Participant and, posthumously, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, in a non-public White Home ceremony Jan. 7, in the future after supporters of Trump stormed the USA Capitol throughout a joint session of Congress to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory. The assault left 5 individuals useless, together with Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick.
“Nicely, I’m not one to second-guess. It was presupposed to be in March 2020, and looking out again at it, it’s simply actually in regards to the individuals who have obtained it by historical past,” Sorenstam said in an interview with Golf Channel. “I don’t need to spend any vitality trying again, I prefer to spend vitality trying ahead, proceed to open doorways, create alternatives for the younger ladies around the globe.”
That is the third time the Diamond Resorts TOC is the kick off occasion for the LPGA season. Within the superstar discipline, baseball Corridor of Fame pitcher John Smoltz has received the 2 earlier editions. Gamers like Smoltz who’re regulars on the superstar golf circuit play much more aggressive golf than Sorenstam has recently. However as Mike Flaskey, CEO of Diamond Resorts, says, it’s a champions occasion. Who higher to hitch the sphere than Sorenstam together with her 72 LPGA Tour wins?
“It brings a extremely cool dimension to the match,” Flaskey stated. “There are numerous nice gamers within the superstar division, lots of them massive, sturdy males that hit the ball over 300 yards off the tee. How does Annika, the 50 12 months outdated, [one of the] winningest all-time golfers, compete in opposition to the John Smoltz’s and Mardy Fish’s of the world? The general public and the viewership goes to get pleasure from simply watching her surgically take these guys down.”
Sorenstam is humble when speaking about her preparation. It’s not like when she was taking part in on tour as her sport isn’t her precedence anymore; being a mother is. She will get in apply time between college drop off an pickups, and her son, Will, joins her on the range and course.
“I’m probably not impressed by my sport. However you do your finest,” Sorenstam stated. “Once you’re 12 years older, you don’t hit it as far, you’re much less correct. You simply have to ensure your thoughts is on the identical web page as your physique. That’s the toughest half. Your thoughts remains to be 35, and your physique’s not.”
Although Sorenstam is adamant that taking part in within the Diamond Resorts occasion isn’t the start of an even bigger comeback, she stated she is among the majors on the Legends Tour schedule after turning 50 final October. This July, she’ll be eligible for the U.S. Senior Ladies’s Open for the primary time, the USGA’s latest championship being held at Brooklawn Nation Membership in Farifield, Conn. In the meantime, the Senior LPGA Championship is the final weekend of August in French Lick, Ind.
“I haven’t dedicated to them, however I’m them, seeing how they match within the schedule with the issues we do with youngsters’ summer time break,” Sorenstam stated. “I’m not going to exit on the tour and be gone. I need my household to be with me. I need this to be an expertise for everyone. If that doesn’t work, then I’m not taking part in. It must be a part of a household factor.”