Annika To Step Away
After a brilliant 15-year professional career that saw her re-write the record book in women’s golf, Annika Sorenstam announced last week that she will be stepping away from competitive play at the conclusion of the 2008 LPGA season.
Annika, who will turn 38 in October, will continue to play a full LPGA schedule through the remainder of 2008, finishing with the season-ending Lexus Cup.
"After much consideration, I have made the decision to step away from competitive golf at the end of this season," said Annika, who has added three more victories to her career total so far in 2008. "Because I love the game so much, this is obviously a hard decision to make, but it feels like the right one. I made this decision because I have a number of other priorities in my life, including starting a family, that I want to be as dedicated to as I have been to playing golf and it was always important to me to go out on my own terms."
Widely regarded as the most dominant player in LPGA history, Annika raised the profile of women’s golf to an unprecedented level while compiling a list of records and accomplishments that are second to none. After turning professional in 1992, and beginning play on the LPGA Tour in 1994, Annika has recorded 88 career wins (72 on the LPGA), including 10 major championships; earned a record eight Rolex Player of the Year awards; a record-tying eight money list titles; six Vare Trophies for the lowest scoring average; was named Golf Writers Association of America Female Player of the Year eight times, and became the first player in LPGA history to cross the $22 million mark in earnings. She has participated on eight Solheim Cup teams and was inducted into the LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame in 2003.
"I am very proud of what I have accomplished as a professional golfer, and while I will no longer be playing competitively, I will continue to be very involved and engaged in the game of golf," Annika said. "I want to ensure that I am always giving back to the game that has given me so much and I feel like I can best do that by helping develop young golfers through the growth of my Academy, my Foundation, my continued promotional programs with my corporate partners, and by continuing to serve as an ambassador for women’s golf."
The ANNIKA Academy opened at Ginn Reunion Resort in Orlando last year as a way for Annika to share her passion for golf and fitness, along with her own personal coaches. The all-encompassing, "boutique style" academy features teachings by Annika’s personal golf instructor, Henri Reis, and fitness instructor, Kai Fusser, who have helped make Annika one of the top female athletes in history.
"There are so many people I would like to thank for the role they have played in my career, but I would especially like to thank my parents and sister, my fiancé, Mike, my agent, Mark Steinberg of IMG, my caddie Terry, my tremendous sponsors and advisors, everyone at the LPGA, and the fans and media who have been so supportive of me and women’s golf," Annika said. "I am very proud of the state of women’s golf today and I’m thankful for the chance to be a part of the growth of the game. Whenever I considered timing for this decision in the past, it was always important to me that the game was strong and I know that women’s golf has a very bright future ahead of it."
Annika has continued to expand her brand with business ventures off the course. She authored her second book Golf Annika’s Way in October 2004 and has partnered with Cutter & Buck to develop the ANNIKA Collection, her very own apparel line. Annika has started a Golf Course Design business and has numerous projects under construction around the world. She also plays host to tournaments on both the LPGA and Ladies European Tours.
As part of her continuing legacy, the ANNIKA Foundation was created in 2007 to provide educational and financial resources that will help children of all backgrounds realize their full potential. The Foundation will create and partner with programs that teach the importance of living a healthy active lifestyle through nutrition and physical fitness, and offer experiences and opportunities that enable aspiring junior golfers to pursue their dreams.
Source: MG Golf
Photos: Getty Images