Golf: Swan song for Sorenstam
EDINA, Minn. ó The practice range at Interlachen was filled with young players hitting balls under the late afternoon sun, many of them playing in the U.S. Women’s Open for the first time and soaking up all it offers.
In the middle of this activity was Annika Sorenstam, without any fanfare, longtime Swedish coach Henri Reis at her side.
She was trying not to soak up the memories.
“I can be an emotional player,” Sorenstam said. “But I can also be a very cold player. And I try to just stay cold about my emotions and focus on what I have to do. But I do know in the back of my mind that when Sunday comes, I will not be playing here any more.”
Sorenstam, 37, announced six weeks ago that she is retiring from competition at the end of the year. She does not want this to be a farewell tour, concentrating instead on piling up as many victories as she can, determined to add at least one more major to her collection.
But this week is different.
The U.S. Women’s Open, which starts Thursday at Interlachen, means more to her than any other major. She captured the first of her 72 victories on the LPGA Tour in the 1995 Women’s Open at the Broadmoor, made it two in a row the next year at Pine Needles, then went an entire decade before adding her third title in 2006 at Newport.
It means so much that she refers to it simply as “The Open,” rare words coming from a European.
And even in retirement, she has agreed to become a “USGA ambassador,” getting involved with everything from the Rules of Golf to programs aimed at getting more younger players involved.
“I care a lot about this championship, and I’m going to do the best I can to be up there on Sunday,” she said.
But she realizes it will be hard work.