She is one of the greatest women golfers to ever play the game, but this week is more about having fun for Annika Sorenstam.
It’s also a homecoming, of sorts, for the retired Swedish golfer.
Sorenstam, who lives part-time in Incline Village, last played in the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in 2014, when she finished in second place with 65 points.
She is an eight-time Player of the Year on the LPGA Tour and a Hall of Famer.
Before playing the tournament in 2014, Sorenstam played a practice round on the back nine with Michael Jordan Sorenstam and Ahmad Rashad. She shot a 33 that day.
“That was a lot of fun. That’s what this tournament brings. It brings out the best in all these different athletes. And obviously to get a chance to play with Michael Jordan was a treat,” Sorenstam said of that practice round.
Sorenstam retired in 2008 and has been focusing on raising her children since then. But one of her sons, Will, is picking up the game, which is getting Sorenstam back on the course more often.
She will turn 50 later this year and said playing on a senior tour for women is a possibility.
Her husband will be her caddie this week for the celebrity tournament.
She expects to compete, but is still not at the level she was as an elite pro.
“I worked a little bit on my game just to fine-tune it. Especially when you’re away, I would have a few good holes, but it’s always one or two holes that would ruin the round,” she said. “I’m trying to get a little more consistent and try to go out there and score and finish up and not just pick up those three-footers and walk the fairways and not just ride the golf course. So it’s nice to be back and just really enjoying it.”
Sorenstam said that while golf is not her priority, being back on a course fires up her competitive nature.
“It’s funny, there’s certain things that don’t go away and some things go away. When I’m out there playing, some things feel very natural and there’s some things that don’t feel so natural. I would say once I’m inside the ropes I’m still quite competitive,” Sorenstam said. “I like the feel when hitting a good shot and I like the feeling of making a putt. And that I don’t think will ever go away. But I think I’m having an easier time leaving the course and forgetting about my shots.”
Immediately after Thursday’s celeb-am, her attention turned to her family and what they were doing for dinner.
She appreciates the variety in her life now, saying golf is part of it, but not the main focus.
“I’m wearing all these different hats. It’s nice to be able to have that option and not just feel like golf is my life and that’s the only thing I have in the country,” she said. “I feel like I have a lot of really nice things going, whether it’s the Annika Foundation and my partners. I keep busy. It’s nice to be able to leave the game on the course and just move on.”
Sorenstam is one of the betting favorites in the ACC this week, at 8-to-1 odds.
But she said she does not worry about odds and does not know much about betting.
“The key for me this week is, other than just having fun, is just play my own game,” she said. “I don’t hit it as far as these guys. And if I can hit fairways and greens and have birdie opportunities, it’s going to be fun. And hopefully, I can post something, and we’ll see where that puts me.”
She said Edgewood is drying out a little this week, especially on the greens, which should help her game.
Sorenstam is one of three women playing in the ACC this week, along with Kira K. Dixon and Dylan Dreyer.
She’d like to see more women playing the ACC, athletes and from other fields such as acting or singing.
“I know with COVID it’s a little restricted with some of the events, but this is a fun week. This is a party week. This is social week<' Sorenstam said. "This is building memories and friendships. And I think that's what many of the players are looking forward to."
She won’t have the distance as most of the players in the field this week, but her short game should make up for that.
“I have to have the mindset of trying to hit the fairway, trying to get on the green first, and show them where the flag is,” she said. “That’s really what this game is about, is about getting the ball in the hole. You can only do what you can do. And I’m very aware of my strengths and aware of my weaknesses and where I am today. And just putting a good score together, it’s what I’m going to try and do. And like I say, we’ll see how many points there will be and we’ll see where that puts me.”
Original posted at www.rgj.com