News From Terre Haute, Indiana

On & Off the Course

July 5, 2008

On & Off the Course: Annika made a huge impact on women’s golf

TERRE HAUTE — Last weekend the Ladies Professional Golf Association held their U.S. Women’s Open at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota. You might not have even noticed it, because there wasn’t a lot of news or fanfare. It was won by Inbee Park, who at 19 years, 11 months and 17 days broke the record set 10 years ago by another Korean, Se Ri Pak, as the youngest player to win the Open.

What did get a lot of notice and press, was that this was Annika Sorenstam’s last Open, unless she comes out of retirement in the future. She did leave the door open after her round, saying the Women’s Open is probably her favorite event, and if she could be coaxed into playing an event in the future, that would be it. Her first win on the LPGA tour was the 1995 Women’s Open, and it has been a special event ever since. This was also Inbee Park’s first tour victory, joining Jane Geddes, Laura Davies, Annika, Liselotte Neumann and Se Ri Pak in the group of other first-time winners at the Women’s Open.

If this was Annika’s last Open, even though she didn’t win, she made it memorable. On the 18th hole she thrilled the crowd by holing out for eagle, from 199 yards out with a 6-iron! She couldn’t see the ball go in the hole, so only knew the result from the crowd’s reaction. She told her caddie, “Oh good, that means I broke 80!” She shot 78, so she was dangerously close to that mark, which would have been a hard number for her to swallow at her last Open.

Annika has been a huge influence on women’s golf, and consequently the increase in earnings on the tour. She recorded 88 career wins, 72 of them on the LPGA and U.S. Women’s Open titles. As a rookie on the WPGET (now the European Tour) in 1993 she won rookie of the year, then the next year won rookie of the year on the LPGA. She won 10 major championships. She won the Rolex Player-of-the-Year award eight times, had the annual money-list title eight times, and won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average six times. She was named Golf Writers’ Association of America Female Player of the Year eight times, and was named by the Associate Press as the Female Athlete of the Year 3 times (2003, 2004, and 2005). She was the first player to make over $22 million in earnings. She was on eight Solheim Cup teams, and won 2 European Player of the Year awards (2004 and 2005). She won 8 ESPY awards, including Best Female Athlete and Best Female Golfer. She holds the record for the lowest score recorded by any female in a single tournament round, a 59 in the 2nd round of the 2001 Standard Register PING tournament, and the record for the lowest scoring average for one season with 68.69 in 2004.

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