Annika Sorenstam, the winner of a record eight Player of the Year awards, and six Vare Trophies, is the only female golfer to shoot a 59 in competition. She is regarded as one of the best female golfers in history. Here are some very important facts about the Swedish professional golfer:
She is one of the best female golfers with most wins to her name. She has won 93 international tournaments as a professional.
She is the first women to play in a PGA Tour event since 1945 finishing 96th out of 111 and tops the LPGA’s career money list with earning of over $ 22 million.
She is eldest of two daughters to Tom, a retired IBM executive and Gunilla, a banker. Her younger sister, Charlotta is also a professional golfer.
Although she excelled in golf, she was equally talented in tennis, football and skiing. At the age of 12, she switched to golf and earned her first handicap of 54.
She is shy by nature and would intentionally finish second in junior tournaments to avoid giving an acceptance speech. She started winning after it was made mandatory for both the winner and runner-up to give speech.
In 1991, she became the first non-American and first freshman to win the individual NCAA Division 1 Championship. She won seven collegiate titles during 1991 and was named co-player of the year with Kelly Robbins.
Sorenstam was the part of Swedish National Team from 1987 to 1992, participating in Espirito Santo Trophy. Before she turned professional, she won the World Amateur Championship in 1992.
She turned professional in 1992 and playing in the Ladies European Tour, she steadily progressed to finish second in four of the events. She was named ‘1993 Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year.’
The first professional tournament win came at ‘1994 Hoden Women’s Australian Open’ on the ALPG Tour with 286 (-10) points.
In the LPGA Tour, she finished runner-up at the Women’s British Open and was among top-ten finisher in three other tour events. She was named ‘1994,LPGA Rookie of the Year.’
In 1995, Sorenstam won her first LPGA Tour title at the US Women’s Open and became the first non-American to win the Vare Trophy. She was named ‘LPGA Player of the Year 1995.’
In 1995, she was the first player to top both ‘LET Order of Merit’ and top of the ‘LPGA Tour Money List’ in the same season. She was also the ‘1995, LET Player of the Year.’
Her performance in 1995, earned her the prestigious ‘Jerringpriset Award’ in sports, voted by people of Sweden, as well as the ‘SvenskaDagbladet Gold Medal.’
She crossed her $ 1 million mark in LPGA career earnings in 1996, with back to back U.S Women’s Open titles and the Vare Trophy.
She started the year 1997 with a win at Chrysler-Plymouth tournament of Champions in Florida and end the year with a win at ITT LPGA Tour Championship in Nevada. In total she won six tournaments and led the money list with earnings of $ 1.2 million to be voted Player of the Year.
Sorenstam was one again runaway winner of 1998, ‘Money List,’ ‘Vare Trophy’ and ‘Player of the Year’ in succession. She along with Se Ri Pak of South Korea won four tournaments each.
In September 1999, she changed her caddie Colin Cann, with Terry McNamara. According to her the split was mutual and that both needed a break.
When she won the ‘2000 Welch’s/Fry’s Championship, she qualified for the World Golf Hall of Fame but was not eligible for induction until her tenth year in LPGA tour. She is the first international player to be inducted through LPGA criteria.
She revolutionized women’s game with her five-day-a-week physical workouts, including push-ups with 50 pounds strapped to her back. From being ranked 26th on the LPGA tour in driving distance with an average of 252 yards in 2000, Sorenstam, improved to 272 yards by 2003.
Sorenstam had eight titles and tied for total of 30 LPGA records en route to her fourth Vare Trophy and Player of the Year award apart from finishing on top of Money list 2001. She is the first LPGA player to cross the $2 million mark in single season earning.
She bettered her earlier performance with 11 titles including Kraft Nabisco Championship in LPGA tour to go with her ANZ Ladies Masters in Australia and Compaq Open in Sweden on the Ladies European Tour in 2002, season.
She is one of the sixplayers to complete ‘Career Grand Slam’ in 2003, by winning the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open.
She was selected by the Association of Golf Writers for the ‘2003, Golf Writer’s Trophy.’ She is first women to win since Alison Nicholas in 1997 and first ever outside Great Britain and Ireland.
On October 18, 2004, Sorenstam was named by ‘The Women’s Sports Foundation’ for the ‘Sportswomen of the Year Award’ and the Laureus World Sports Academy also named her ‘World Sportswomen of the Year.’
In August 2005, she won her 75th career title by winning the Scandinavian TPC which was hosted by her and was named 2005 ESPY Award as Best Female Athlete.
On May 13, 2008, she announced her retirement intention at the end the season and played her last professional tournament at the Dubai Ladies Masters on the LET, in December 2008, finishing 7th.
Under her brand name ‘ANNIKA’ she has undertaken number of golf course design project, notably the Mission Hills Golf Club in China and the Euphoria Golf Estate & Hydro in South Africa.
In April 2007, the ANNIKA Academy at Ginn Reunion Resort, Florida was opened. She conducts Make-A-Wish Foundation golf clinic and hosts an American Junior Golf Association event featuring top 60 girls from around the world.
She has also other business ventures like clothing line Cutter & Buck, Wente Vineyards and SA Fragrances. She has serious interest in stock market and in August 2006 was invited to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
She was married to Lake Tahoe from 1997 to 2005, before marring Mike McGee on January 10, 2009. They have daughter Ava Madelyn McGee and a son William Nicholas McGee.