SOUTHERN PINES, North Carolina: When Annika Sorenstam tees it up at the US Women's Open in June there will be a record US$10 million purse on offer but the Swedish golfing great said she never thought about prize money after establishing herself early in her Hall of Fame career.
Sorenstam tops the LPGA career earnings list with over US$22 million in winnings but admits she never went into a tournament knowing what the prize money was.
"To me, it was just being a competitor," the 10-times major champion told Reuters during a media event at Pine Needles where the US Women's Open will be held Jun 2-5.
"I wanted to play well, I wanted to win and I wanted to be the best, then of course there was prize money and a trophy and that was the side effect of that. But money was never a motivator to me."
This year's US Women's Open will be the fourth time the major is contested at Pine Needles, where Sorenstam successfully defended her 1995 title with a six-stroke victory in 1996.
The 51-year-old Sorenstam earned a spot in the field at Pine Needles, where the prize money is nearly double the previous biggest purse for a women's golf event, by winning last year's US Senior Women's Open by eight strokes.
Sorenstam said the rich purse is simply a sign of the times.
"I remember when I made my first cheque I finished fourth in an LPGA event it was US$36,000 and that was my whole budget for the whole year and that was in March," said Sorenstam.
"And then after that I never thought about it again because I knew I could afford going to the next tournament, I knew I could pay my caddie."
Sorenstam stepped away from competitive golf in 2008 after dominating the women's game for a decade but played an LPGA event in February 2021 near her Florida home as part of her preparations for the US Senior Women's Open.
Sorenstam is one of the most decorated golfers of all time - male or female - having won 72 times on the LPGA Tour and while she is not considering herself a ceremonial golfer for the US Women's Open she has tempered her expectations.
"These young players they hit it a lot further, they do this for a living, they play every week and are a little hungrier than I am if you know what I mean," said Sorenstam.
"But it doesn't mean I go out there and am not going to care. I've been preparing.
"So I am going to do what I can and play with what I have and then I'll be happy with that and see where that takes me. Of course I would love to play all four days and I think if I play my game I can."