The best female golfer ever (so far)


annika1“A lot of people think I am cold and have no feelings. But I do. I just try very hard to focus and not let my emotions take over on the golf course.”Annika Sörenstam

By Ian Hardie

In the posts The best male golfer ever (so far) and The best male golfer ever (so far) – part two I took a look at the career of the great Jack Nicklaus and what it was that most golfers can learn from his attitude to the game to improve their golf

Today I’d like to introduce you to another one of the best golfers that have ever played the game to both inform and inspire you some more – this time it’s

The best female golfer ever (so far) – otherwise known as Annika Sörenstam

Annika Sörenstam is a (retired) Swedish professional golfer whose achievements rank her as one of the most successful female golfers in history

Now let me point out that before we go any further – the reason I have to say ‘one of the most’ is that unlike the best male golfer ever (so far)

The best female golfer ever (so far) can be the subject of some debate

Due to the fact that there are a couple of other female golfers that have better records on the LPGA Tour – Kathy Whitworth won 88 LPGA Tour events which is more than any other woman and more than any man has won on any tour (at this point), Mickey Wright won on tour 82 times – 13 of them were Major Championship wins – all of which were achieved despite her giving up the full-time touring life by age 34

However the golf establishment around the world considers that as Kathy Whitworth and Mickey Wright’s records were compiled back in the days when the women’s game didn’t feature the depth of talent in the fields that Annika Sörenstam played against for her whole career – that when it comes to the debate about who the best was – field strength has to be taken as a factor which means that some of her international wins were not regarded as the same quality as the LPGA events

I’m not going to participate in that debate, so to make things simpler I’m going to pronounce

That Annika Sörenstam is the best female golfer ever (so far) – in the modern era

Born in 1970, she began to be noticed by the golfing public in the early 1990’s

For most of the next two decades she dominated the ladies game before retiring from competitive golf at the end of the 2008 season

In all she won 90 international tournaments as a Professional

Making her the female golfer with the most worldwide wins to her name

She has won 72 official LPGA tournaments including 10 Majors and at the time of writing she still tops the LPGA’s career money list – something which will probably change as tournament prize money these days is significantly higher than when Annika was at her best

Here’s what I think really sets Annika apart from the other two (I know I said I wasn’t going to participate in that debate but just wait and you will see why)

Annika Sörenstam is the only female golfer to shoot a 59 in competition

Yes, you read that right!

So far she is the only female golfer to break the magic 60 mark in a professional tournament

As a child, Annika Sörenstam was a talented all-round sportsperson – she was a nationally ranked junior tennis player, played football (soccer) and was such a good skier that the coach of the Swedish national ski team suggested the family move to Northern Sweden to improve her skiing year round

At the age of 12 though, she switched to golf and started playing by sharing her first set of golf clubs with her sister

Annika got the odd numbered clubs and her sister the even numbered clubs

Very quickly she earned her first handicap of 54 and it’s been said that she was so shy as a junior golfer that she used to deliberately three putt at the end of a tournament to avoid giving the victory speech, however her coach at the time noticed and at the next tournament declared that both the winner and the runner-up of the event were going to have to give a speech so Sörenstam decided that if she were going to have to face the crowd anyway

She might as well win and the deliberate misses stopped!

As a member of the Swedish National Team from 1987 to 1992, she played in the 1990 and 1992 Espirito Santo Trophy World Amateur Golf Team Championships, becoming World Amateur champion in 1992

After a coach spotted Sörenstam playing in a collegiate event in Tokyo, she moved to the United States to attend college at the University of Arizona and during her time there she won seven collegiate titles and in 1991, became the first non-American and first freshman to win the individual NCAA National Championship

At the 1992 United States Women’s Amateur Golf Championship, she was the runner-up to Vicki Goetze and as a result got an invitation to play in the 1992 U.S. Women’s Open in which she ended up tied for 63rd place

Turning Professional in 1992, Annika missed gaining her LPGA Tour card at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament by one shot

So she began her professional career on the Ladies European Tour where she finished second four times which made her the 1993 Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year

Annika Sörenstam’s first professional win came at the 1994 Holden Women’s Australian Open on the ALPG Tour and in the same year she was named LPGA Rookie of the Year after having 3 top-10 finishes and a tie for second at the Women’s British Open

In 1995 she won her first LPGA Tour title at the U.S. Women’s Open, finished at the top of the Money List, became the first non-American winner of the Vare Trophy (which is awarded to the LPGA golfer with the lowest scoring average) and was named LPGA Player of the Year but she didn’t stop there as she also had a win at the 1995 Australian Ladies Masters and 2 other wins on the Ladies European Tour – which put her top of the LET Order of Merit – making her the first player

To ever top both the European and LPGA Tour money lists in the same season

As you can imagine, Annika kept on playing and winning around the world over the next few years but around the start of the year 2000 – things started to slide a bit for a very interesting reason

Which I’m going to tell you about in ‘The best female golfer ever (so far) – part two’

Until then

Play well


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The best male golfer ever (so far)

The best male golfer ever (so far) – part two

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A lesson in persistence from Miguel Ángel Jiménez