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

 

annika3“I stay patient. I don’t go out there and try to set a course record. That’s probably one of my strengths and one reason I’ve been able to win major championships.”Annika Sörenstam

By Ian Hardie

In the post The best female golfer ever (so far) I took a look at the early stages of the career of Annika Sörenstam – which I finished by saying that around the start of the year 2000 – things started to slide a bit for a very interesting reason

Having won and achieved so much Annika Sörenstam said that she “felt a loss of focus having reached her biggest goals”

Something that a lot of athletes, not just golfers have experienced over the years

As a result, her No 1 in the world position was overtaken by Australian Karrie Webb

After a period of reflection, Annika Sörenstam decided that she wasn’t fit enough to compete as well as she would like, so she embarked on a new five-day-a-week exercise program which included weight-lifting and balance work – an exercise program

That would eventually see her add over 20 yards (18 m) to her driving distance

During the 2001 season, she had 8 LPGA wins became the only female golfer to shoot a 59 in competition and the first LPGA player to cross the $2 million mark in single-season earnings – at the end of that remarkable season Karrie Webb said that she “would eat her hat” – if Annika Sörenstam repeated her 8 wins in 2002

I hope it was a tasty sort of hat because that’s exactly what Karrie Webb had to do!

After Annika Sörenstam accomplished that feat plus an extra 3 wins, joining Mickey Wright as the only other player to win 11 LPGA tournaments in one season

In fact Annika Sörenstam was such a dominant force in ladies golf that year that she ended up with a record of 13 tournament wins in only 25 starts around the world!

Amid some controversy in 2003, Annika Sörenstam was invited to play in the Bank of America Colonial golf tournament in Fort Worth, Texas making her the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias (who had actually qualified for the 1945 Los Angeles Open – as opposed to being invited)

Cheered through each hole by a gallery that featured a lot more female fans than a normal PGA Tour event did, she shot 1 over par 71 in the first round and a four over par 74 second round to miss the cut

Interestingly, after the first round she led the field in driving accuracy, was in the top 20 in greens in regulation and was 84th out of 111 in driving distance – her putting however was not as good

Averaging over 2 putts per hole which was the worst in the field

For the rest of the 2003 season, she won the LPGA Championship and the Women’s British Open, had 5 other victories worldwide, set or tied a total of 22 LPGA records and earned her sixth Player of the Year award

Annika Sörenstam’s dominance continued in 2004 as she posted 16 top-10 finishes in 18 LPGA starts – including 8 wins – had 2 international wins, became the first player to reach $15 million in LPGA career earnings and took her own LPGA single-season scoring average record to 68.69696

That’s right for every tournament round that she played over an entire year

She averaged less than 69 shots a round!

2005 bought more of the same for Annika as she won 11 times out of the 21 tournaments she entered worldwide

When the first-ever official Women’s World Golf Rankings were eventually unveiled in February 2006, Annika Sörenstam was confirmed as the number-one player in women’s golf, she went on to win the Women’s World Cup of Golf and then opened her LPGA season with a win in the MasterCard Classic

She then went winless in eight starts, causing some to talk of a slump

However all was not lost for 2006 as she won the U.S. Women’s Open and ended the season with 3 wins on the LPGA and 2 wins on the Ladies European Tour

In 2007 she shot her highest 72-hole score in a major in nine years, which was explained by her subsequent diagnosis of having ruptured and bulging discs in her neck

It was the first major injury in Annika Sörenstam’s career and very likely the start of the end for her as she battled for the rest of the year

She declared herself recovered from injury and ready to return to a complete season of competitive golf in 2008, starting the year with a victory where she captured her 70th LPGA Tour title and had won 2 more by mid-May

Not realising at the time that it was her 72nd and final ever win on the LPGA Tour

A few days later Annika Sörenstam announced at a press conference at the Sybase Classic that she would “step away” from competitive golf at the conclusion of the 2008 season, she battled away for the rest of the season with her last tournament victory coming in a playoff at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open, an event co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and the Ladies Asian Golf tour

Annika Sörenstam began the transition from professional golfer to entrepreneur during the later years of her career, attempting to combine golf, fitness and charitable works into various businesses under the ANNIKA brand with the brand statement “Share my Passion”

You can find out what she is up to currently by taking a look at her website – annikasorenstam.com – which is well worth taking some time to have a look at

So there you have it, Annika Sörenstam is the best female golfer ever (so far) – in the modern era of golf

The question now of course is what can we learn from her or be inspired by?

The main thing that set Annika apart from her competition is that she was able to have an unusual mix of both a high work ethic as well as a balanced lifestyle

Something that to be honest is missing from a lot of people, not just golfers out there

Annika trained harder than almost any of the other golfers that she competed with being one of the first to adopt

The “work out, practice, compete, rest” plan

That is now extremely commonplace in the professional game these days

She also had a couple of other things going though, in that when she finished ‘her work’ for the day – she was able to leave golf at the course and relax by enjoying other things – like, cooking, wine and her family

The final part that made her as good as she was?

Annika Sörenstam spent a fair bit of time working on getting her mental state and on course processes to be the best possible

Something that most golfers don’t ever consider doing as they are too busy thinking about their technique as opposed to how to apply it to the game

That seems like a subject for another day though………………

Play well

 

Related Posts

The best female golfer ever (so far)

The best male golfer ever (so far)

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

A lesson in persistence from Miguel Ángel Jiménez