The best female golfers in the world will compete at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club for the title of champion of the US Women’s Open. Among the list of players, one name stands out: Annika Sorenstam. This will be the first time the World Golf Hall of Famer has competed in a major tournament since retiring in 2008 and fans are excited to see her play again.
However, it’s not just another major for Sorenstam. She has a history in Pine Needles. Not only did she win the 1996 US Women’s Open by six strokes here, but she also spent time early in her career training at Pine Needles as a guest of World Golf member Peggy Kirk Bell Hall of Famer.
Knowing Sorenstam’s course is going to be a huge advantage for her this weekend and she’s also being briefed on how she’s preparing for the tournament.
A key area Sorenstam says she focused on over the past two months was her driving.
“If I miss my rides, the course can get longer and I’ll end up in some of the areas I’m not interested in,” says Sorenstam.
If you haven’t seen the course, Sorenstam refers to the deep fairway bunkers, thick fescue and scattered treeline that make it difficult to find the green. Even if you’re lucky enough to hit the green due to trouble, most of these lies make it nearly impossible to hold the notoriously fast and undulating greens of Pine Needles. That’s why distance will be just as crucial as accuracy off the tee for Sorenstam and the rest of the field.
“If I ride it well, I’ll get the distance I need to be in the fairway and have shorter clubs,” says Sorenstam.
Having shorter, bulkier clubs will give Sorenstam the best chance to hold the tough greens and that’s where we’ll see her score. Although the course strategy of its competitors might look a bit different.
“6600 yards is not super long for them (the other players), and I have a feeling that a lot of them will be able to hit par 5s in two, and that will be harder for me,” said Sorenstam.
This is where Sorenstam’s mental game will be tested.
“If I can play my own game and not get caught up in the moment, I think that will be the most important thing,” Sorenstam said.