Q & A WITH ANNIKA SORENSTAM
Annikia Sorenstam has only played in one or two tournaments this year, and this week spoke about her injury ordeal and where she is at.
Former World No 1 Annikia Sorenstam has only played in one or two LPGA tournaments this year, but she’s back and “feeling good with her swing” as she makes ground in her recovery from disk injuries in her neck and spine.
The Swedish legend was certainly buoyed up and bouncy when she spoke to the media prior to Thursday’s start of the HSBC Women World Match-play Championship at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, New York, this week.
Here is a full transcript of her Q & A
QUESTION: This will be your seventh event this year, and you have two Top 10’s. You’re recovering from a back injury, but I think it’s going pretty well for you. You took a week off last week. Can you talk about how you feel right now and how you’re playing?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I haven’t played very much, but no, I’m happy to be back here. This is a great area and I have some great memories of Wykagyl when it was a stroke-play event. It’s good to be back. I feel good about everything. I’ve practiced the last few weeks, and neck-wise I’m feeling a lot better. I’m getting stronger every day and just continue to do some rehab, starting to work out again.
So no, I’m in good spirits and happy to be here.
Q. Obviously a lot of this has to do with the injury, but can you talk about the dynamic of not being the No. 1 player in the game, in the context of, do you enjoy actually having someone chase, as opposed to being the person that was being chased for so long?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I would say right now I’m not really trying to chase anybody. I’m just trying to get into the swing of things. I’m just trying to get back to me and the way I played, and I’m not really at the level I know where I can be. Right now I’m not focusing on who is where and where I am. I just want to start playing golf again.
I’ve been back, what is it, three tournaments since the injury and just trying to find the rhythm, trying to get into the tournament mode, practicing. It’s been just a really weird season for me. I mean, by this time, I’ve been in 12, 13 events just playing good golf and having some wins, but it’s been very different.
Like I said, I’m not really trying to chase anybody. I just want to get back to playing at the level that I know how.
Q. Is your practice round still limited, in the sense of how many you’ll hit now?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: It’s not as much. And this is a time where I need to practice because I haven’t been able to. So it’s a little weird where I know I need to but I still have to pace myself. It’s one thing to have an injury and there’s one thing on the road to recovery. I think I’m doing great and my doctors think I’m doing great. But it just takes time.
You know, with the competition being so tough today, you just can’t take a break like I have for two months and not competing and just kind of come out and compete with just a few hundred balls in practice rather than a thousand that I need.
I’ve got to think long term. I have no pain, I feel great and I’m starting to really swing the club a little better. So give me a few more weeks and I’m going to start chasing some people.
Q. Looking ahead a little bit, how big of a deal is it going to St. Andrews?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think it’s a big, big, big deal. I’m really excited about it. I think it’s a huge step for women’s golf to go there. I mean, the history that St. Andrews has with the men playing the Open there, I think it’s wonderful. I’m thrilled and excited. I’ve been, you know, as an amateur, I’ve played there a few times. I think it’s an amazing place.
So I’m going to enjoy every minute.
Q. And what do you think of the changes here?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I love the changes. I think it’s fantastic. I’ve always been a fan of this golf course. I love courses up here in the northeast, but the changes that they have done, I think it’s fantastic.
You know, they took down a lot of trees. You can see the course a bit more. They totally changed the look and the feel around the greens. They evened some greens out, and the way they set up the course this year, we are playing a lot further back. I think this sets up fantastic for this format.
I’m happy for the members. I’m actually staying with some members and they love it, too. So the changes has been great.
Q. As far as the format of the tournament and you coming back from injury and trying to rehab, how does that affect your expectations for how you want to perform in a tournament?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I think in match play, you know, anything can happen. I think we’ve seen that in the past. We’ve seen it in Solheim Cup; match play is so different.
I think in my case, I’m just going to go out there and just try to play the best I can. I’m feeling very good the way I swing the club. Like I said, whenever I go out on Thursday, I’m just to go to play the best I can. One match is like one tournament. You can’t really look ahead thinking, ‘Tomorrow I have an early tee time and the next day I want to have a late one.’ It’s just one day at a time and you’ve just got to focus on that.
I’ve got to give it all. I don’t have, you know, so much tournament experience this year, so I’ve just got to go out there and go hard from the beginning.
Q. The possibility exists that by the weekend, you’re going to have to play back-to-back, a lot of golf; physically grueling, playing 36 holes or whatever?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I will do the best I can. I would say that the U.S. Open was probably as hard a test as there could have been. I mean, I didn’t finish on 18-hole round until Sunday. I mean, I stopped and started every single round. The Open was probably the toughest conditions for me with this injury, and that was two weeks ago; and I would like to think that I’m in better shape this week than at the Open.
Q. For how long do you feel like you were playing with your injury being pretty severe, and I guess did you reach the point where surgery was an option, or did you try and resist that?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Now when I look back at last year, you know, I wonder if I wasn’t affected by this injury, because the way I was swinging. I mean, last year was such a weird year for me golf-wise. I lost distance; I lost accuracy; I was struggling with my swing the whole season.
And there were three times during the year where I had issues with my neck where I was just really, really tight. I think now I can kind of put them together and think that was probably the beginning; I just wasn’t able to kind of see the signs or understand that it was maybe more than technical; it was inside.
Sometimes it’s nice to kind of know that, but then, you know, I wish I would have done something about it, because I probably would have been here today. You know, when I was told it was a ruptured disk, I told the doctor after he explained what it is, I said, “Fine, I’m playing tomorrow at 8:10.” Even when he told me it was a ruptured disk, I was still planning on playing. So I didn’t know if
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