LPGA legend impresses in Sweden

When you talk about women’s golf, the list of names that pop up might include Nancy Lopez, Karrie Webb, Lorena Ochoa, Imbee Park and Ai Miyazato.

However, one name is never left off the list….former world number one, Annika Sorenstam, whose achievements still rank her as one of the most successful female golfers in history.

Sorenstam won 72 LPGA tournaments, including 10 Majors, and 18 other events on the international stage. She represented Europe in eight Solheim Cups and still tops the LPGA Tour’s Career Money List with earnings of $22-million. To date, no other player has even come close to breaking the lowest season scoring average of 68.69 she set in 2004.

Since her retirement from competitive golf, the Hall of Famer has devoted herself to the development of the game among juniors through an international academy and by hosting three annual Annika Invitational tournaments in the United States, China and Sweden.

Womens Golf SA president Cynthia Rayner had the opportunity to observe Sorenstam when she accompanied top SA juniors Bianca Theron and Magda Kruger to the Annika Invitational Europe this August.

“In a word, Annika is inspirational,” Rayner said. “There are many great players out there who talk a good game when it comes to development, but she is one of the few that truly delivers.

“She is not just using her years of experience to inspire and develop the next generation of champions through the Annika Foundation and the tournaments; she is truly hands-on.

“Annika was available throughout the tournament and she took the time to talk to all the juniors who competed in the event. She was very visible and she showed real interest. I was impressed with her patience and presence, but mostly with her passion and dedication to developing the juniors.”

The South African juniors also had the chance to talk to Sorenstam when the former world number one presented a golf clinic for the 72 participants during the event.

“It’s not every day that you get to talk to a 10-time Major winner and the two girls just relished the opportunity,” Rayner said.

“They might have been a little intimidated with her achievements, but she was incredibly down to earth around the players and I think that gave the girls the confidence to talk to her and ask her questions. They both agreed that she is a true living legend.”

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