Annika Sorenstam turns back the clock and rises to the top at U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The last time the world saw Annika Sorenstam play in a major, most were watching their box TVs as she capped her Hall of Fame career holing a 199 yard eagle on the 72nd hole of the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open. 

It was 13 years before, at the 1995 U.S. Women’s Open when she notched her first LPGA title. Now, 13 years since her fairy tale ending, the 50-year-old is back for her first major tournament since ’08 at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Connecticut, for the U.S. Women’s Senior Open.

In Sorenstam’s first round she showed no signs of rust, signing her scorecard tied for the lead with Dana Ebster after shooting 5-under 67. 

“Yeah, it was very special,” Sorenstam said following her first round. “Had a few butterflies, to be expected I guess, but it’s nice to be back and see some friends in the crowd. Again, just catching up with all players makes for a great week.” 

When the Sweden native stepped up for her first tee shot, the butterflies weren’t detected as Sorenstam’s drive landed on the fairway en route to her first of six birdies on the day. Her lone bogey came on the 513 yard par-5 11th, the longest hole on the course. 

She put an exclamation mark on her round with a birdie on the par-4 18th, pumping her first when the ball hit the bottom of the cup. 

“You know, I mean, I have been practicing, but it’s different to come out here and play, especially around the greens here,” She said. “These greens I think are what really makes the golf course. Super happy with the way hit it. I can be a little more aggressive on my putts. It’s a fine line there.” 

The 72-time LPGA winner and three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion retired from golf in 2008 saying “I feel I achieved so much more than I ever thought I could.” She looked forward to starting a family and got married to her husband Mike McGee four months after she retired. 

Over a decade later Sorenstam cites the same reasons for retiring and although she’s playing in her second professional event since February, she won’t be returning to the game full-time. 

“I stepped away with the intention of not really playing because I was very content, I was very happy,” she said Wednesday before the tournament. “I had achieved everything I wanted to achieve. Mike and I were getting married and we wanted to start a family, and we’ve done all those things, and then this tournament pops up and then I turned 50 and our son is really into golf and COVID hit.” 

The day before the competition started she said will go out there and do her best, adding “I’m still a fighter, still a competitor, and we’ll see what happens.” After turning the clock back 13 years on Day 1 and fighting her way back to the top of the leaderboard, Sorenstam will stick to that mindset for the next few days in Connecticut. 

“Now it’s like, Okay. Now I’m thinking. I’m trying not to think,” she said. “I’m just trying to go out there and be more reactive, pick a line and trust it, and whatever happens, happens. That’s going to be my attitude because there is really nothing else I can do than just go out there and trust the work I put in. We’ll see what happens.” 

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