“I think it takes a lot of guts to come back and play,” said Pat Hurst, who was on-site at Lake Nona to scout for the U.S. Solheim Cup team.
That Sorenstam made the weekend after such a long hiatus from the game was incredible. In some ways, it felt like stepping into a time machine, watching the same mannerisms and routines from the prime of her career. When Sorenstam doffed her cap and raised her right hand toward the sky in acknowledgement to the crowd, it felt like watching her win 72 times all over again. Only it was more warm than steely.
There was so much for younger generations to take in.
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) February 25, 2021
Sorenstam went out in a twosome off No. 10 on Sunday with Wei-Ling Hsu. After the round Hsu did what so many players did last week – she asked for a picture with Sorenstam. Then Hsu’s mom did the same.
This was a scrapbook kind of week for much of the field at Gainbridge. Sorenstam didn’t show them the game she’d once had, but there was still so much to learn. When an LPGA rules official approached Sorenstam after Friday’s round to apologize for a mistake he’d made the day before that resulted in an unnecessary penalty stroke, Sorenstam told him not to beat himself up over it, giving a masterclass in grace.
If 9-year-old son Will wanted to analyze her shots on the range or go over course strategy at breakfast, Sorenstam went along with it. She held hands with 11-year-old daughter Ava on her way to the tee and got hug after hug along the rope lines when there was a break in the action. Sometimes she even stepped outside the ropes to visit with family and friends.
This was as much about family as anything else, and a reminder to players that there’s still a rich life ahead after golf.
“I think that’s something they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives,” said Stacy Lewis. “They’re at an age where they’re being influenced by that. … It is really cool. All they’ve ever heard is how great mom was, but they never saw it.”
The adoration on son Will’s face as he looked up toward his mother during her post-round interviews was a highlight of the week. As was his nodding approval when he agreed with her assessment of the day.
“I want them to see when you have a passion for something,” Sorenstam said of her children, “and also what it takes to be good at something. Hopefully that will rub off on whatever they want to do. They can find their passion.”
Walking to the tee with mom.
Two-putt par for Annika on the first. Tee shot split the fairway.
It’s quiet, calm and peaceful out here. Perfect morning. pic.twitter.com/3kYD1XkPPr
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) February 26, 2021
Sorenstam got choked up when she was asked about what it meant to her that so many players were grateful for the opportunity to compete in the same field as one of their heroes for the first time. The ability to help other players achieve their dreams is something she takes seriously.
A big part of competing last week was to get ready for the U.S. Senior Women’s Open. To that end, a number of local players reached out to Sorenstam to let her that know they’d be up for a game if she wanted some at-home competition.
“I look forward to that,” said Sorenstam of deepening new friendships and rekindling old ones.
It’s a long way off until the Senior Women’s Open starts in late July. Sorenstam said she’d need to find something else to play in before that. (The events she’s hosting on the LET this summer comes to mind.)
“I mean, I don’t want to wait four months,” she said, “and here I go back at square one again.”
Whether or not Sorenstam competes on the LPGA again, there’s much to look forward to this summer as she eyes another USGA championship title.
Much like Will, we can’t wait.
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