‘Happy’ Sorenstam Enjoys Family Life
It was a long way from being the most important golf shot that Annika Sorenstam has struck during a brilliant hall of fame career on the LPGA Tour, but it was a memorable one for the handful of spectators gathered around the 10th tee of Pinehurst No. 2 Wednesday.
Sorenstam, in the second year of her retirement from the Tour and her first as a mother, thrilled the onlookers by rifling her tee shot long and straight down the fairway, leaving the four women paired with her a little intimidated and a lot impressed.
“Can we just play a scramble?” one of them pleaded as she awaited her turn.
Sorenstam is no stranger to the Sandhills, of course, having played in three U.S. Opens at nearby Pine Needles, where she won the national championship in 1996. The stakes weren’t nearly as high this time as she was playing the back nine of No. 2 with four lucky members of the Executive Women’s Golf Association, who had made winning bids for the honor.
The women were Pamela Garcia, a physician from Austin, Texas, Terrie Marshall, a computer forensic investigator from Vancouver, Wash., Kimberly Stanfield, president of a pile driving company in Penneville, N.Y., and Janie Tischler, an anesthetist from Clarkson, Mich.
The EWGA, a national organization of women golfers, held its annual conference at Pinehurst Resort last week, highlighted by the appearance of Sorenstam and LPGA stars Suzann Pettersen and Kristy McPherson.
Despite the perfect drive down the right-center of the fairway, Sorenstam insists she is not about to attempt a comeback on the LPGA Tour. Considered the greatest female golfer of her generation and indisputably one of the best players of all time, her credentials are too numerous to list.
She won 89 tournaments worldwide, including 10 major championships, and was Player of the Year eight times. She appeared on eight Solheim Cup teams and is the only woman to shoot 59 in an LPGA tournament.
Sorenstam walked away from the game at the end of the 2008 season to get married and start a family, as well as to pursue a more active role in several businesses, including golf course design, a signature wine label and a fragrance label.
Despite some speculation that she might be thinking of making a return to competitive golf, Sorenstam denies she has any such plans.
“No, I’m not planning a comeback,” she said. “I’m enjoying life away from the LPGA more than I ever thought I would. It’s been 14-15 months now, and the time has gone by so quickly.
“No, I have no plans as of now to come back. I’m enjoying my family life too much.”
Following the nine holes of golf, Sorenstam appeared at a private reception for EWGA Executive Distinction members, then received the Leadership Award during a welcome reception.
The EWGA presents this annual award to individuals who have made longtime and outstanding contributions to women’s golf. Some past honorees are Patty Berg, Peggy Kirk Bell, Judy Bell, Judy Dickinson, Michelle McGann, Alice Dye, Kathy Whitworth, Shirley Spork, Marlene Hagge and Renee Powell.
“The EWGA does a wonderful job for women who are golf enthusiasts,” Sorenstam said. “It encourages women to play, and their involvement can help them in so many ways.”
Pamela Swensen, who joined the EWGA in 1994, became an employee of the organization in 2002 and is now the CEO, said, “We’ve been trying for a while to find a time when Annika could make an appearance and accept the Leadership Award. My gosh, what she’s done, not only with her record in golf, but her foundation.
“We have more than 100,000 participants now,” Swensen said. “The EWGA provides a welcome doorway to get women into the game.
“The game offers us the chance to learn a lot about a person we’re playing with — their character.
“We’re relatively new on the scene, but we’ve had rapid growth.
“The golf industry is recognizing our role; that we’re a significant part of the game. They understand that if women are treated well at their facilities, they’ll buy merchandise and they’ll come back.”
Swensen feels the EWGA’s commitment to aiding LPGA-USGA Girls Golf is an important part of the program. “We’ve contributed $400,000 to the organization over the past five years,” she said.
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