| Annika Sorenstam is pushing herself to become a better player
Houston: Annika Sorenstam will earn her place in the LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame this week, honours being bestowed upon the most dominant female golfer of her era.
And she’s still in her prime.
Sorenstam will reach the requirements for both Halls of Fame after she completes the first round of the Samsung World Championship on Thursday at TPC at The Woodlands.
There will be a small ceremony on the 18th green to commemorate the event, which takes place on her 33rd birthday.
“It’s going to be emotional, for sure,” she said.
There won’t be as many people as usual around to witness the ceremony. The event features only the top 20 female golfers in the world, at least one chasing Sorenstam for Player of the Year honours.
“There’s much more than just the Hall of Fame,” Sorenstam said. “You’ve got Player of the Year, the money list, etc., that are important right now.”
Sorenstam leads the Tour with five wins this season and tops the money list with nearly $1.7 million. South Korean star Se Ri-pak is on her heels with three titles and almost $1.35 million in earnings.
Time is, though, running out for Se. There are only five tournaments left on the schedule, and Sorenstam is the defending champion at three of them. She won the other two events last season.
Sorenstam claimed this event last year by six strokes. It is one of her 47 titles on the LPGA Tour, 47 more than she thought she would win. “When I came on tour, I didn’t really know if I could win a single tournament,” she said. “And here I am 10 years later and I’ve won 47.”
Sorenstam was one of the best amateurs in Sweden when she decided that she wanted to join the LPGA Tour. The moment came when Liselotte Neumann — a fellow Swede — won the 1988 US Women’s Open.
“I come from a little town just like she does,” Sorenstam said. “So for her to travel all the way from Sweden and live your dream, when I saw that headline, I said, ‘That’s what I want to do.”’
Sorenstam has done it better than anyone. She already had won 43 times when she participated in a PGA Tour event this season in an effort to improve herself. It worked. While Sorenstam missed the cut at the Colonial, she faced more pressure than she ever had, which prepared her for the LPGA Tour’s majors, two of which she won. She also noticed how hard the men work on their short games and followed suit.
“I learned a lot from seeing the guys and how they practised, how they approach it and just learning from them,” Sorenstam said.
Amazingly, Sorenstam still thinks there’s more she can learn, which might just help her reach Kathy Whitworth’s LPGA Tour record of 88 wins. She will need about five titles a year for the next eight seasons.
“That’s the way I push myself now, just to become a better player,” she said. “And if I can become a better player, hopefully I can stay on top or even distance myself a little more.”