MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (AP) — Annika Sorenstam’s always counted on her long, straight shots and go-for-it attitude.
After two months away from the LPGA Tour because of injuries, Sorenstam’s calling on a different trait – patience – to carry her through at the Ginn Tribute she’s hosting.
“It’s a different situation I’m in and I just have to deal with it,” said Sorenstam, playing her first tournament since the Kraft Nabisco Championship ended on April 1.
Sorenstam surprised herself with an even par-72 in Thursday’s first round, six shots behind the lead of LPGA rookie Angela Park (66).
The return of 17-year-old star Michelle Wie lasted just 16 holes. Wie withdrew after shooting 14-over par – including a quintuple bogey 10 on the third hole – and saying she had reaggravated the wrist injury that’s kept her from competitive golf since January.
“I think that when an injury is in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is going to hurt,”’ Wie said. “The last thing you’re thinking about is trying to hit the ball straight.”
Sorenstam couldn’t do much of that early on. She was 2-over par after her first five holes and feeling frustrated.
“My caddie put his arm around me and said, ‘Be patient. You’re not hitting as far as you want to or as straight as you like, but we can still score,”’ Sorenstam said.
Sorenstam birdied her next hole and began to feel more like her championship self. She continued patiently waiting for opportunities, finding her form at the end with three birdies in her final four holes.
After that stretch, Sorenstam’s caddie told her he was pleased with her demeanor. “So that means a lot to me,” she said.
If she can continue that the rest of the week, Sorenstam could be back on top quicker than she thought. Sorenstam, though, says she has far to go to recover from the ruptured disk and bulging disk that kept her off the course.
“I’m extremely happy with my round considering the circumstances,” Sorenstam said. “Obviously, a year ago, I wouldn’t have been happy with it.”
Wie will never be happy with Thursday’s performance. The best thing could be that as far as the LPGA Tour goes, it’s like it never happened.
Wie withdrew before she could run afoul of the tour’s “88 rule” that bans non-members from LPGA sponsored events for the rest of the season.
Wie said the withdrawal was because of hurting her wrist and not because she was two bogeys away from that magic number.
“I don’t think about shooting 88,” Wie said. “I try to play the best golf I can and, unfortunately, I was not able to do that because I had issues with my wrist.”
There were several lowlights of Wie’s round: A triple bogey on the par-3 14th where her father, B.J., may have crossed a line when reminding his daughter and her caddie of their option to re-tee after hitting into the woods; A drive into large clumps of thick, stingy grass two holes later for another bogey.
The lowest came at the third. Wie’s first drive hit a car and bounced into a storm drain. “It was actually quite funny,” Wie said.
Her provisional shot landed in water. Her third drive made the rough. Five strokes later, Wie was in with a 10 to move to 12-over par.
When Wie finished the seventh hole with yet another bogey, she was stopped by manager Greg Nared. The two spoke briefly before calling over an LPGA official to say, “We’re not going to play any more.”
Wie, though, still expects to make next week’s major, the McDonald’s LPGA Championship.
Sorenstam called it a “bummer” that Wie wouldn’t be around for the rest of the tournament.
It might bum out many other competitors that Sorenstam will be around – and could be in solid form.
The tournament attracted the top 50 money winners on the LPGA Tour.
“The field is really strong,” said Paula Creamer, in a group two shots behind the leader. “It’s pretty cool to have Annika back in the tournament.”
Especially if Sorenstam follows her new, patient guidelines.