‘Let’s not be too serious’: Annika Sorenstam set to partner with her golf-addicted son Will at the PNC, where the emphasis is on fun
ORLANDO, Florida – Christmas came early for Will McGee, who was so stoked to tee it up with his mom in the pro-am of the PNC Championship that he spent the morning running up and down the hallways of the family’s Lake Nona home. Annika Sorenstam has traditionally played the PNC with her father, Tom, but he’s now working as a caddie for the 10-time major winner, enjoying a front-row seat to his grandson having an absolute ball.
When it came time to warm up Friday morning, 11-year-old Will, who is the youngest in the field, put his clubs down on the range next to Tiger Woods. On the first tee, Woods and son Charlie, 13, took photographs with Annika and Will. Tiger and Annika own 25 major championship titles between them.
“I thought I would be really nervous,” said the outgoing Will of his first-tee experience. “But I was more excited than nervous, which I was shocked. That was nice.”
Will McGee tees it up in the PNC Championship pro-am with mom Annika Sorenstam. (PNC Championship/IMG)
Will has wanted to play with mom in the PNC for some time now, but Sorenstam and her husband, Mike, wanted to make sure he was ready for this type of spotlight. Will met Tiger recently at The Match VII.
“We don’t want to put him on a stage where he’s uncomfortable,” said Sorenstam. “I want him to feel like this is fun to be here.”
Ultimately, they left the decision up to him.
Sorenstam was a multi-sport athlete growing up. She wanted the same for Will, but he’s turned into a golf addict entirely on his own. Will tees it up daily with Ian Poulter’s son Josh and Henrik Stenson’s son Karl. They’re often out with their push carts until dark. If Will doesn’t answer his phone, mom and dad track him by iPhone to cart him back to the house.
“The golf course is their playground,” said Sorenstam. “Sometimes, it’s 36 holes. If it’s a rainstorm, they’re inside having burgers. I can’t ask for any better.”
Will plays in local U.S. Kids Golf and Space Coast Florida events. Right now, he competes around three weekends a month, which Sorenstam said is plenty. She’ll take a look at his swing and offer some mental advice, but mostly she does what her dad did – she gives him space.
Sorenstam loves all the creative ways Will and his friends enjoy the game.
“I want that to flow,” she said.
Will wants to play college golf at Stanford, just like his texting buddy Maverick McNealy. The two families hang out together often in Lake Tahoe.
Sorenstam wants this game to be a passion for life. She worries about burnout, not because Will is being pushed, but because he doesn’t want to do much else.
Will reports that he has worked mostly on his driver and irons coming into this event, knowing that the yardage would be on the longer side. His short game has always been a strength, and he loves to have putting and chipping competitions with mom.
“He’s so competitive,” said Sorenstam, “he wants to beat me in everything we do every time.”
Even as they practiced for a scramble, Will wanted to make sure his shots counted, too. Preferably more of them.
“I’ll get you to the green,” Sorenstam tells him, “you put us in the hole.”
Annika just said that if Will had his way they’d be playing 36 today! pic.twitter.com/GhnPKdDoDH
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) December 16, 2022
Since Sorenstam has returned to competition, it’s been a family-first mentality. She’s still competitive, of course, but she’s often over by the gallery ropes talking to family and friends mid-round. Making sure Will has a good time will be at the front of her mind all weekend.
Three generations of Sorenstam’s family will be teaming up this week at the PNC, celebrating all the many ways this game can loved ones for decades. Sorenstam wants her son to leave this week loving the game even more.
“He’s 11,” said Sorenstam. “He puts a hoodie on and lays down on a tee box. That’s what it should be.
“You just want them to have a good time and not grow up too quickly and be able to just enjoy it … let’s not be too serious.”