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The 10-time major winner, who retired from golf in 2008, announced earlier this month that she was to make her comeback at the Gainbridge LPGA Championship which began on Thursday.

Sorenstam shot a 75 in her return, and just the sight of the 50-year-old hitting shots and striding down the fairways had some of the younger players in awe.

Patty Tavatanakit — who won Sorenstam’s college event in Minnesota — said it felt like “a Tiger feeling a little bit” having her back, while Gaby Lopez called it a “dream come true” to be in the same field as her.
“Just being with her gave me this kind of peaceful environment and just reminded me of how blessed and how thankful I am to have this opportunity to be able to compete with her, just because I remember the seven-year-old Gaby chasing her down the golf course to get a signed golf ball,” the Mexican golfer told the media afterwards.

“Her role in this game, at this time of her career, I guess, is just keep inspiring girls. I played with her at Diamond Resorts, and I can tell that you she’s still as competitive as probably when she was 20 years ago.

“You can see that her short game; putting is still on. That’s something that she has in her veins and is going to shine forever. She said that she’s probably not hitting it as far or straight as she was before, but at the end of the day, I’m going to say it again: she’s my superhero. Her and Lorena are probably why I’m here. Being able to share this with them, with her specifically, is just unbelievable.”

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Sorenstam stepped away from golf in 2008 to start a family. And with her children Will and Ava watching on, the 50-year-old finished three over par on her home course, admitting that she will need to be more aggressive going forward.

Although her return to the course caused a flutter amongst her competitors, adjusting to the changes the Tour has undergone since she has been away was the biggest shock.

“I think the biggest thing that I messed up was the practice round tee times,” Sorenstam said. “I was told that you’re supposed to be ready by 7:00 on Saturday. I didn’t hear 7:00. I just heard Saturday. I somehow messed that up.”
Sorenstam reacts on the first tee during the first round of the Gainnbridge LPGA Championship.

“Luckily, I was able to play with Anna (Nordqvist) on Monday anyway and with Danielle (Kang) on Tuesday. It was a little different, but you’ve got to get used to these new rules. By the time I figure them all out, I’m outta here.”

However, next week Sorenstam says she will go back to being a wife and a mother.

“Again, if it wasn’t for Lake Nona [being the host site] I wouldn’t be playing. This is not a comeback. It’s an appearance. And I’m just thrilled about that.”

Even first round clubhouse leader Lydia Ko admitted to being somewhat starstruck just seeing Sorenstam do her stuff.

“Obviously so cool seeing Annika and just being in the group behind her, seeing her hit a few shots,” Ko said. “I’ve always seen her on TV playing, and to play with her last Saturday and to play behind her I think is super cool.

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“Hopefully, this brings a lot of attention and hype back for us on tour and just into women’s golf. I’m pretty sure it’s not easy for her to come back, especially after being retired for so long, but I think this is a pretty big statement. And, yeah, definitely cool for me to be in the same field as I think the GOAT.”

Jill Martin contributed to this report.



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