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Annika Sorenstam makes cut in LPGA return despite incorrect ruling

Annika Sorenstam
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ORLANDO, Fla. – Annika Sorenstam had planned to take her daughter, Ava, to play volleyball on Saturday.

She'll now need to make other arrangements.

In her first LPGA start since 2008, the 50-year-old Sorenstam shot 1-under 71 Friday at the Gainbridge LPGA to make the cut on the number at 2 over. She did so despite receiving bad advice from a rules official during Thursday's first round.

Sorenstam's drive at the fifth hole Thursday at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club, Sorenstam's home course, ended up underneath a gate. Barely in bounds, Sorenstam called in an LPGA rules official, who determined that Sorenstam could not open the unlocked gate in order to play her next shot.

Instead, Sorenstam took an unplayable and went on to make triple bogey.

After her round on Friday, the rules official, Dan Maselli, informed Sorenstam that he had given her incorrect advice. Under the new Rules of Golf, updated in 2019, Sorenstam was allowed to open the gate.

Official apologizes to Sorenstam for rules error

Official apologizes to Sorenstam for rules error

The LPGA also released a statement, telling Golfweek“Regarding the Ruling given to Annika Sorenstam on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2021 Gainbridge LPGA, the official on scene linked the word “integral” to the gate meant that it could not be moved. This was an error under the definition of an Immovable Obstruction in the Rules of Golf. The gate is considered moveable if proven to be unlocked (Rule 16), and therefore could have been moved to allow the player to hit the shot. The option to rescind the penalty is not available under the Rules of Golf. The official met the player immediately following her second round to explain the mistake and apologize.”

Sorenstam admitted that she hadn't brushed up on the new rules since she last attended USGA Rules School as a player more than a decade ago, so she was quick to forgive.

“He said, ‘This is going to hurt me. This is eating me inside,’” Sorenstam recounted. “I said, ‘Please, please don't feel that way.’ ‘I appreciate it,' he said, ‘I won't make that mistake again.’ I said, ‘Well, I won't hit there anymore.’”

After a nervous start and opening 75 on Thursday, Sorenstam didn’t have time to be anxious on Friday. Her 8 a.m. tee time forced her to get right to business. She began her day on the back nine at Lake Nona, where she recorded nine consecutive pars. After making the turn, she made back-to-back birdies, on Nos. 2 and 3, offset by a bogey at the fourth hole. But she rallied with a long birdie make at the par-4 seventh to give her a last burst of momentum.

Gainbridge LPGA: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Sorenstam closed bogey-par, punctuated by an aggressive 3-wood into the par-5 ninth hole to cap off her round.

“You know, I didn't come here to lay up,” Sorenstam said about her final hole of the day. “Yesterday, I was trying to just maybe play overly smart. Today, I just released the club a little bit more. I think that worked out.”

Now, she'll get to test her game on the weekend. Sorenstam has been adamant that this isn't a comeback but rather a tune-up for a potential U.S. Senior Women's Open start this summer, and she's already accomplished what she set out to do at the start of the week.

“The goal was to shoot under par and I did, and so that's all I can do,” Sorenstam said. “Whatever happens, happens from here. It's been great.”