SBD/Issue 163/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Annika Announces Retirement To Focus On "Other Priorities"

Sorenstam Announces She Will Retire From
Competitive Golf After This Season
LPGA member Annika Sorenstam yesterday announced her retirement from competitive golf, effective at the end of this season, noting she has "other priorities in my life." Sorenstam: "I want to continue to build the Annika brand of businesses, and this includes my academy, my foundation, my golf course design projects, all my corporate relationships, hosting golf tournaments, clothing line, etc.” Sorenstam said she will remain “very involved in the game of golf, but in a different way." She said, "I want to make sure I can give back to the game that’s been great to me, by helping and inspiring young kids to develop. ... I know I can do that with the growth of my academy, I can do that with the growth of my foundation, and I’m going to do it with the commitment from my sponsors that have been there for me all these years and have played an instrumental part in my success" (Golf Channel, 5/13). LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens said of Sorenstam, "She is not going to be gone from the game of golf. Don't look at this as saying goodbye to golf" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/14). Sorenstam's last event on the LPGA tour will be the ADT Championship, held November 20-23 at Trump Int’l Golf Club in West Palm Beach. Her final pro appearance will be the Dubai Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour from December 10-13 (THE DAILY).

LEAVING LPGA IN A GOOD PLACE: Sorenstam said she is "very proud of women’s golf and the state it’s in today." Sorenstam: "In the last 15 years, I’ve seen a tremendous change and it’s really grown to an amazing place. ... I believe that this decision comes at the right time for the LPGA. It is in very good hands with some great talent and a commissioner that really cares" (Golf Channel, 5/13). Golf Channel’s Alex Miceli said Sorenstam "made the LPGA relevant. It was something that no one really focused on ... and if it wasn’t for her the LPGA wouldn’t be where it is today” (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 5/13). Golfer Meaghan Francella: “She brought women’s golf to the forefront. She’s why the LPGA is where it is right now” (GOLFWEEK.com, 5/13). Golfer Lorena Ochoa: "We will miss her for sure, and we will never forget what she has done for us, as players, and for the LPGA" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/14). Golfer Brittany Lincicome: "I respect Annika and what she has done to advance the popularity of the LPGA Tour" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/14).

Pepper Feels Sorenstam's Retirement
Will Be Big Blow For LPGA Tour
BLOW TO THE GAME? NBC golf analyst and former LPGA member Dottie Pepper said that Sorenstam's departure "will be a big blow to the LPGA Tour, which seemed to have a budding rivalry developing between Ochoa and Sorenstam, who currently are 1-2 in the world rankings." Pepper: "They're going to need someone like (Suzann) Pettersen or Paula Creamer, someone with a fiery personality, to step up and push Ochoa. There's a big void there." In West Palm Beach, Craig Dolch noted the timing of Sorenstam's retirement "isn't good in that the LPGA Tour is just starting serious negotiations over its next TV deal, which starts in 2009" (PALM BEACH POST, 5/14). In Milwaukee, Gary D'Amato writes Ochoa vs. Sorenstam was "shaping up to be the second-best rivalry in golf, behind only Tiger Woods vs. Jack and The Record Book" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/14). In London, Peter Dixon notes Sorenstam was paired with Ochoa for the first three rounds in the LPGA Michelob Ultra Open last weekend and "outplayed the younger woman on all fronts." Sorenstam won the event by seven strokes and topped Ochoa by 12 shots, which highlights "how keenly her absence will be felt in the women’s game" (LONDON TIMES, 5/14).  

LPGA NOT ENOUGH: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said the LPGA "can’t offer her anything anymore. She’s bigger than the LPGA." Plaschke: "If the LPGA was any kind of a major league operation, if it had more exposure, if it had more money, there’s no way she’d retire. ... That shows to me the LPGA is in huge trouble. It needs to be more attractive to keep golfers in it” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 5/13). In Detroit, Carlos Monarrez writes, "Though I respect Sorenstam's decision to quit, I'm saddened by what sounds to be the underlying financial reason for it." Sorenstam "wants to control her financial destiny -- and competing for the LPGA's paltry purses doesn't cut it. ... In Sorenstam's case, it's much better to pursue a fuller, richer life with a family, less travel, less pressure and more lucrative financial opportunities" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/14).

Sorenstam Draws Media Crowd
While Playing In Colonial In '03
REMEMBERING THE COLONIAL: Sorenstam began her press conference by saying, “I think last time I saw so many cameras was at the Colonial," referencing the historic '03 PGA Tour event in which she became the first female golfer to play on the men's tour in 58 years (THE DAILY). In Boston, Jim McCabe writes while Sorenstam missed the cut at the event, she "gained an abundance of fame that helped shape her legacy." McCabe: "Under intense scrutiny and fiercely criticized by some of the men, Sorenstam maintained great dignity and held up well enough under pressure to ... win a legion of supporters" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/14). In a special to YAHOO SPORTS, former LPGA golfer Amy Alcott wrote Sorenstam's "legacy extends well beyond the numbers. Like so many others, I will always remember that moment when she walked up to the first tee at Colonial in 2003" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/13). In California, Mirjam Swanson writes Sorenstam was "widely lauded for her typically classy demeanor in the face of intense, international scrutiny." LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship Tournament Dir Terry Wilcox said playing in the Colonial was "the biggest thing [Sorenstam] did" (Riverside PRESS-ENTERPRISE, 5/14).

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