Annika Sorenstam will return to LPGA competition in January, but this foray into competitive golf will be a little different for the 72-time winner.
Sorenstam, who retired from competition in 2008, will play as a celebrity in the 2021 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions on Jan. 21-24 at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club near Orlando, Florida. The event features celebrities, athletes and 40-plus LPGA winners from 2018, 2019 and 2020.
It will be one of Sorenstam’s few organized competitions since she stepped away from her playing career at the age of 37. This time she will compete against a strong roster of male amateurs, including two-time defending Diamond celebrity champion John Smoltz.
“I’ve taken out the golf clubs and dusted them off, and I’ve been playing a little bit and really enjoying it,” the 50-year-old Hall-of-Famer said at the media day for the event. “My son is 9 years old, and he has an interest in it. So it’s been a good reason for me to go out and just hang out with him, and that’s sparked my interest again. I just want to go out and make sure I can hit the center of the clubface again and see the ball go up in the air. So I’m super excited about that.”
The celebrity side of the Diamond Resorts event is run on a points-based Stableford system instead of regular stroke play, so the occasional foul ball won’t have the same impact on a scorecard. Sorenstam said that when compared to her LPGA days, that will be a relief versus the days when every shot carried so much importance.
“I think I just have enough space from 2008,” the 10-time major winner said. “I was done with my career, you know, I had achieved what I wanted to achieve, and sometimes you just need a little space. It’s been 12 years now, and maybe I can start to appreciate it again now that the pressure is not there. I don’t feel like I will have the pressure of having to go out and shoot 59 every day. That gets really hard on you.”
While Sorenstam hasn’t competed much – she played once in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship years ago – she has hardly stepped away from golf as a whole. Her eponymous foundation runs multiple top-tier junior and amateur events, she operates several businesses and she will serve as an ambassador for the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. It’s just now, she will have her spikes back on.
“I’ve been watching this tournament on television, and I was always like, how can I get involved?” Sorenstam said. “I don’t play anymore, but this is just such a cool concept. Living in Orlando, it feels like this is just around the corner. … I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/12/15/annika-sorenstam-playing-tournament-of-champions/