Fellow players appreciate, admire what Annika did
Annika Sorenstam's decision to play in the PGA Tour's Colonial tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, a decade ago was predicated on how she thought it would help her own already-great game.
But, of course, she also knew she would be representing the LPGA and women's athletics in general -- both with how she played and how she handled the stress and the spotlight.
It was a television event, especially that first round on Thursday, May 22, 2003, and Sorenstam had never dealt with so much media attention and scrutiny. Among those watching were her fellow LPGA competitors plus female athletes of all ages around the world.
Here are a few of their thoughts as they reflect on what she did at the Colonial and what it meant to them:
Cristie Kerr, LPGA
"It certainly brought a lot of visibility and kind of showed everybody that women could play, that we have a lot of game. It helped the LPGA get some more national TV presence at the time. And that's something that all the players then will remember -- what she did for our tour."
Christina Kim, LPGA
"I just remember how hard she was working -- physically as well as mentally -- to prepare for that. And I remember when she striped that drive down the first tee.
"It was really nice to see that emotion from her, because it meant a lot to her. She wanted to play well for herself, but she had an entire gender behind her and on her shoulders."
Ai Miyazato, LPGA
"I don't even remember how many years ago or where I was, but I was watching Annika's first tee shot on TV. Maybe she hit a fairway wood instead of the driver, but I remember clearly how nervous even Annika can get from her reaction.
"I also remember how emotional she was at the press conference and her saying it was a moment her dream came true. And I believe she meant that it wasn't just playing in a men's tournament but that she was able to display all of her qualities and be herself no matter what the situation or how big the pressure was. Truly an amazing feat to this day.
Lindsay Whalen, WNBA
"I think obviously it's a huge anniversary and honor for her because that's what she put her mind to. I think it's up to every golfer and everyone in their position to decide if they want to compete against the men. I think she had an amazing career before that, but she wanted to challenge herself at the PGA tournament course, and I think it's a huge accomplishment for her. She is another female athlete we can look up to and admire."
Brittany Lincicome, LPGA
"I remember watching Annika and thinking, This is so cool. I think Annika was brave to make that move, and it gave a lot of attention to the LPGA. It is funny to me now that Aaron Barber, who was paired with Annika, has become a friend of mine. I did not know him then, but he is a great guy."