Annika Sorenstam, a golf legend, won nearly every significant award in her sport. However, what matters most is what occurs next.

Sunday afternoon in Orlando, Florida is cool and bright, making it the ideal day to hit one of the more than 1,000 golf courses located around the Sunshine State. Instead, though, Annika Sorenstam—possibly the greatest female golfer of all time—is enjoying a casual game of putting in their Lake Nona garden alongside her spouse and two kids. Her professional legacy is unrivaled, beginning with her historic 59, the lowest-scoring game in women’s competition history, and continuing with her 90 international victories. She is working just as hard now to return favors to the sport that has greatly benefited her. The former professional has put her family and her organization, which supports young women in golf, first since quitting in 2008.

Similar to the topic of this year’s International Women’s Day, Sorenstam thinks that putting money into women will guarantee their success in life as well as in golf. In a recent interview with CNN from her Florida home, Sorenstam stated, “There’s no doubt that the girls that come through the foundation, they are great golfers, but many of them don’t go on to necessarily play professional golf, which is not really the purpose of the foundation.” “It’s more about encouraging them to achieve their goals.” In this sport, there are numerous options for women. Prior to becoming the golf “GOAT,” Sorenstam was just a young child from Bro, Sweden, a small village. She enjoyed playing a variety of sports but wasn’t particularly interested in golf. “I really wasn’t all that excited about golf at first,” the woman remarked. “I was hoping for a little bit more speed and action.” She did, however, admit that she gradually began to like the game and how challenging it was because she lived so close to a golf course and her parents used ice cream to entice her and her sister Charlotta to play. She knew she could make a living in the sport when she was eighteen, the year she won the World Amateur Championship.

She added how crucial it was to have such representation and mentioned how other women players at the time, including Nancy Lopez and Beth Daniel, had also influenced her. Following the 1988 US Open victory of Swedish professional golfer Liselotte Neumann, Sorenstam remarked, “I thought, ‘Wow, she has a similar background like me, so maybe there’s a chance I can do it.'” Although Sorenstam was aware of the differences in golf earnings and visibility between men and women when she turned pro, she claimed she was too thrilled to play the game to give the differences much thought. She remarked, “I knew women’s golf was going to grow and hopefully we will get there one day.” The Swede had no idea at the moment how she would contribute to the dawn of a new era in women’s golf, raising the game to a whole new level. Sorenstam won 10 majors and 72 Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) events during her professional career (plus one senior major in 2021).

A record amount of Vare Trophies, which are awarded for having the lowest scoring average across a season, and Rolex Player of the Year accolades were also given to her. Her career turning point came in 2001 when she became the first female competitor in history to cross the 60-year mark in an official competition. Being the first woman to accomplish something in this circumstance lends you credit and earns you the charming moniker “Miss 59.” It’s about having the ability to “set the bar high… just keep working and you can break barriers,” Sorenstam continued. Her success paved the way for her to compete against males at the 2003 Colonial, making history as the first female player in a PGA event to compete in more than 50 years. “I recall being ecstatic at the time. I recall thinking, “Wow, I’m going to push even harder,” she remarked. “I wanted to demonstrate our ability to play, and it was a wonderful experience.”

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