So she was surprised to hear him say again, Thank you. She looked at him, and a look of real gratitude crossed his face.
No ' really ' thank you, the stranger said. I have three daughters.
Then it hit her. She had played the Colonial the week before against some of the best men of the PGA Tour, and this man was thanking her for what she had done for his daughters future. It was a sobering moment in the life of the 32-year-old star.
It was pretty cool that he said that, I thought, she said.
Sorenstam has had 10 days ' and a week back on the LPGA ' to reflect. And what she has done is very meaningful to her.
Right now I dont know, sitting here two weeks later, she said. There was so much that happened last week ' or two weeks ago. Its just a memory.
I mean, the people, the support, but most of all, I realize that I really love what I do, and I think its something Ill never forget.
Sorenstam is in Wilmington, Del., where she will compete in an LPGA major tournament this week ' the LPGA McDonalds. She is surprised every time she comes out to the golf course, even for practice rounds like Tuesday. She signs autographs by the hundreds, and it isnt about to abate.
I understand it comes with the territory, she said. And Im getting used to it. Im learning to handle it a little better, and its great that everybody is still following my career and coming out to the ladies tour. I think thats positive.
She still insists that Colonial was a one-time-only affair, even though many in the business refuse to be convinced. There are those who believe some ulterior motive was involved, something that will only be revealed when she announces she is entering another mens tournament.
No, I will not, she said with finality. It was a one-time opportunity. I dont know if I could handle it again, but I wanted to test myself, and it was a challenge, for sure. But I wanted to leave it at that.
After that week at Colonial, Sorenstam went right out and fired a 62 in her next round ' the LPGAs Keebler Classic in Chicago. In fact, she won the tournament by three strokes. It was a relief to her that she could come down from the Colonial high and get back to business.
I was excited to be back on tour, she said. I was excited because I was playing well, but coming back and people talking about it, and I was still kind of geared up and wired for the week. I didnt know if I was going to be able to focus for 18 holes, and I got off to a good start and the momentum kept going, so I was pleased.
Sorenstam again hinted rather broadly that the sports world should not be surprised if she retires ' soon. She has said that she thinks often about starting a family, and it is no secret that she longs to be a professional chef, among other things. She foresees the day that she leaves the LPGA behind.
Yeah, that could happen very easily, she said. Ive always said that if I enjoy the game and I wake up in the morning and feel like I have goals to achieve, or Im motivated to practice, I will continue to do this.
But I have other interests that Id like to pursue some day. If thats a year or two from now, or five, I dont really know. Id like to just take it as it comes, and right now I enjoy what I do and still feel like I can become a better player.
The challenges remain, though, and as long as they do, Annika will keep playing.
Im satisfied at what Ive done, she said. When I came out here on tour in 94, I didnt know if I could win a single tournament. So a lot of things have changed.
Sometimes I feel very happy about what Ive achieved, but there are other days when I feel I can play better, win more tournaments. I can push myself, so the challenge I am looking for is to stay motivated and keep on working.