(Reuters) – Three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Annika Sorenstam will compete in this year’s championship at the age of 51, the U.S. Golf Association said on Thursday.
Sorenstam, winner of 72 titles on the U.S.-based LPGA Tour, earned a spot by winning last year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open by eight strokes.
It will be her first Open appearance in 14 years.
The June 2-5 event, to offer a record purse of $10 million, will be held at Pine Needles in North Carolina, site of Sorenstam’s second Open title in 1996. The prize money is nearly double the previous biggest purse for a women’s golf event.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to play in a U.S. Women’s Open again, especially with it being held at Pine Needles,” said the Florida-based Swede.
“I really never thought I would play in another one, but everything just sort of fell into place.
“Teeing it up in the greatest championship in women’s golf, at a venue that has so many incredible memories for me, and to be able to do so with my family means a lot to us.”
Sorenstam has contested 15 Women’s Opens, winning in 1995, 1996 and 2006.
Her 72 LPGA titles puts her third on the all-time list behind Kathy Whitworth and Mickey Wright.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Ballarat, Australia; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)