Will McGee enjoys working on his game with his renowned mother, and when he asked her to compete in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open, he remarked, “Come on, this will give you something to practice for.”
How could a mother possibly say no?
Annika Sorenstam has filed an entry to compete in this year’s Women’s Open at Pine Needles, which will be held June 2-5 in Southern Pines, North Carolina, according to the USGA. In 1996, Sorenstam triumphed by six strokes, much to the surprise of her friend, Peggy Kirk Bell. Sorenstam stayed with the Bells during her amateur days and instantly became friends with Peggy, who dubbed her “Heineken” since she couldn’t pronounce her name.
Sorenstam, a 10-time major champion, last competed in the US Women’s Open in 2008, when she holed a 199-yard eagle putt on the 18th hole at Interlachen.
Mike McGee, her husband, got choked up just thinking about it. After the round with Sorenstam, he remembered going into the TV booth and seeing Dottie Pepper and Johnny Miller crying.
“I remember it because I was crying as well,” McGee explained. “It was Hollywood-esque because that’s how it was supposed to be.”
The USGA provided a framed photo of Sorenstam in the middle of her backswing, with a crowded gallery in the background. It is displayed in their Tahoe house.
They never imagined she’d be teeing it up in another Women’s Open 14 years later, this time for a $10 million purse. Sorenstam, of course, earned her berth in the field by winning the U.S. Senior Women’s Open by eight shots in her championship debut at Brooklawn Country Club last year.
“I’m thrilled to have the chance to compete in another US Women’s Open, especially one at Pine Needles.” I never expected to be a part of another one, but everything simply fell into place. Teeing it up in the best women’s golf tournament, at a place where I have so many fantastic memories, and doing so with my family means a lot to us. I’m sure Peggy Kirk Bell is smiling as she looks down at how everything came together.”
Sorenstam has won three US Women’s Opens in her 15 appearances. Last spring, she made the Gainbridge Classic at Lake Nona, where she lives on the 16th hole, in her first LPGA start in 13 years.
She competed in the celebrity division of the tour’s season-opening event earlier this year, however in a Modified Stableford Format, from the same tees as the LPGA players.
“She knew that by playing the same tees and in the same group as Gaby (Lopez) and Nelly (Korda), she had the opportunity to not humiliate herself,” McGee said.
Given the record purse on offer, Sorenstam’s presence at what is already a historic tournament sparks even more interest in the most important title in women’s golf.
Fans who purchase two good-any-day Daily Gallery tickets for this year’s U.S. Women’s Open will receive a limited-edition Annika Sorenstam bobblehead to commemorate the occasion. The discount is only valid till February 28.
Of course, with Sorenstam aiming to defend her championship at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio this August, one can’t help but wonder of the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach. It seems like a fitting place for a legend to end her second U.S. Women’s Open career.
Ordering more bobbleheads might be a smart idea.