Annika Sorenstam talks family, golf, the season ahead and her thoughts on the current state of the LPGA in the growing women's sport market

This week golfing legend Annika Sorenstam is competing in the season opener on the LPGA Tour. The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions features a celebrity element with 50 players taking part in a 72 hole competition with a Modified Stableford scoring format, whilst 35 of the leading LPGA stars take part in their own 72 hole, no cut, stroke play event.

Ahead of the tournament, Sorenstam took time to speak to assembled golf media to discuss how golf is an integral part of family life, how much she will be playing this season and the state of women's professional golf in the growing female sports market.

Talk about your evolution playing in tournaments and getting your kids involved and how that worked for you.

The game of golf is a big part of our family, as you know. Started with Mike's dad and his mom played and my parents play, and now we're into the game. It's just something that is so close to us and we've always brought the kids out to different events from being this small to this, and now Ava is almost as tall as I am.

I just think it's a great sport for life. I really do. Whether you play at a high or middle or low level, it's something I think you can do. It's good for your soul. Good for your mind. Also, it's a social sport.

Yes, golf is a big deal for us, and that will hopefully continue. Seems like Will has a passion for it. He's been bitten by the golf bug, and we have a good time together when we practice. Hopefully we can continue the family tradition and take the game to a different level.

Are you playing more yourself than you envisioned five years ago?

I am. I did retire in 2008 and I did use the words "step away." But, yeah, I wasn't planning on playing -- I mean, at that time we didn't have the U.S. Senior Women's Open. That came along and I thought I need to support that, and then I realized to play decently there I have to play in some other events and keep my game going.

Then with Will playing and us being invited to the PNC, I need to do my part and my share. So I’ve got to keep my game somewhat sharp. It's a lot more than I intended. I do enjoy some parts, but it's tougher at this age I must admit.

At times my mind is 27 and my body says it's not, so I battle inside of me a lot, why am I doing this, and then I do it and it's like I don't get as much out of it as I like to. I do practice quite a bit and play with him on some weekends, but it's fun to have that common bond. Again, goes back to golf is a sport for life. You want to continue that as much as we can. My game is going down and your game is going up, buddy, so soon we'll be changing roles.

How much do you plan to compete this year?

I really don't know either, to be honest. This year I haven't really made up my mind at all. Going to take week by week. Really not that much to play. I'm not playing in U.S. Women’s Open. Not playing in any LPGA or LET events. If it's a celebrity event I appreciate the invites. It's a big commitment for me and the family. The answer is less, but I don't know how much less.

How much has come close at the Hilton Grand Vacation Tournament of Champions before helped you to prepare and what would it mean to have a good week here?

I know, I've been so close. My husband Mike has all the stats of all the events I played in. I've been knocking on the door but haven't really been able to put four great rounds together. That's what I would love to do. Where that takes me, we'll see. But it's more can I just play four good rounds. Seems like there is always a part of my game that is just not where I want it to be even though I put in time.

This year I'm just going to go out there and enjoy it as much, and I don't know if we're going to come back here. Obviously to be seen and heard. But that's why I want to enjoy this as much as I can in front of the members and our family. And then, put the pressure away. I'm not here for it the way I used to be. It's more, okay, enjoy the moment. I know the kids will be out and everybody. Let's smile about it.

Speaking of change, the season opener is the perfect time to talk about the future. Is there still one concern or issue that you would like to see improve or change this year or over the next five to ten years on the LPGA?

You know what? I applaud the purses. This says a lot about the commitment and sponsorships and companies that want to be associated with women's golf. To continue, I think TV, it would be nice to see the women on TV more consistently and with bigger coverage. Same thing in print and so forth. It's a fraction of what other sports get, and compared to the men's sport it's just not there. That's what I would love to see. It's getting better, but continue to work. There is no doubt. Other than that, I think the women are doing a great job and the LPGA is in a good place. So let's continue to work.

For you, this up close and personal with the state of the LPGA, what does that mean for you just being out there and seeing these ladies continue to compete and get better as the years go on?

I think it's a dream come true for everybody. Everybody in this room I would say cheer for women's golf. We want to grow and elevate and we want to get more exposure and purses, you name it. I think the LPGA is going in the right direction. It's been a good run. But a lot of that is thanks to the players themselves for being great ambassadors and influencers and everything they do to create the stories people are attracted to.

If you come here and play they're very personal. I know a lot of people in the pro-am are like, wow, they're not just good but they're nice and friendly and interact with you. I think we've been saying that for what, 20, 30 years?!

I am glad that people are noticing and being part of it. It's nice to see now that women's sport in general are getting some bigger sponsorship money and it makes a difference. It elevates everything we do and trickles down.

The young girls we saw at the ANNIKA Invitational, but even younger girls there, know it's cool to play golf and they want to be part of it and they have dreams and look up to the players as role models.

View the full celebrity leaderboard at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions here.