Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow make their seasonal reappearance at this week’s Gainbridge LPGA where the story surrounds legendary Annika Sorenstam who makes her first appearance on the Tour in 13 years.
The GOAT of the women’s game, who boasted 94 tournament wins worldwide including ten Major titles before calling time on an illustrious career, has been living at the course of this week’s host venue at Lake Nona for years and has been tempted back for one time only after members encouraged her to tee-up again on Tour.
“This is, again, not a comeback. It’s an appearance, and I’m just thrilled about that,” said Sorenstam who lives near the 16th hole and is keen to make the most of this week’s “family affair.”
“To have [my husband] Mike [McGee] on the bag is fun. We get along well and work well together. I enjoy sharing this experience with him. And then for the kids to be part of it, I mean, we live on the 16th hole. We can literally roll out of bed and be on 16 tee. This is our backyard, and we know the neighbours, we know the other members, my parents are here and to get the support from them, I mean, Mike’s sister will come,” said Sorenstam, who in 2008 announced she was stepping away from professional golf to focus on family and her business ventures. “Even though it’s limited with Covid, we still feel like we got some great support.
“Yeah, it’s just a fun thing. A lot of members have come out already, and they see me normally playing pickleball or they might see us here for Easter brunch, Thanksgiving dinner. So that’s kind of how they associate me. They haven’t really seen me play. When I was living here and I was competing I always travelled around the world but they never saw me. So now they’re seeing me, and we have some friends coming out. For them I’m just a good friend. Some of them hardly knew I was a golfer, so it’s going to be fun to be here.”
No doubt Leona Maguire will get a thrill from seeing one of her sporting heroes pick up her clubs again in competition. An Annika Award recipient as she became the leading collegiate player during her time at Duke University, Maguire is one of many younger players who was long inspired by Sorenstam.
“You’re a legend of the game,” Maguire said to Sorenstam as a freshmen when picking up the award in 2017. “For you to put your name to an award like this and invest your time and effort into women’s college golf … it’s very special for all of us to get to compete for an award that has your name on it.”
This week she shares the fairway with the now 50-year old Swede, while joining them also will be Stephanie Meadow, eager to build on arguably her most consistent campaign in the paid ranks to date. Although the Jordanstown professional only had one top-10 to show for her efforts last year, Meadow finished 42nd on the Race to CME Globe, qualifying for the season-ending Tour Championship where she was joined by Maguire who finished 59th in the season-long standings.
The pair return to the action for the first time since that December date and will be eager to hit the ground running amongst a field head by world number one, Jin Young Ko.
Thursday’s tee-times (Irish time)
- 16.30 – Stephanie Meadow
- 17.25 – Annika Sorenstam
- 17.58 – Leona Maguire
- Full scoring HERE