NCGA Golf

Spring 2019

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In becoming the most dominant female player in the modern era, Sorenstam was the first (and still only) LPGA player to shoot a 59 in competition. As a player, Sorenstam sought the unseekable, reached what had seemed unreachable and then looked higher. That was her inspiration to compete in the Bank of America Colonial tournament and become the first woman to play a PGA Tour event since 1945. "I've climbed as high as I can," she said at the time. "It was worth every step of it." She stood above the LPGA in much the same fashion as Tiger Woods in the men's game. But in 2008, at age 37, she an- nounced her retirement after a 16-year pro- fessional career. The stunning news came two days after Sorenstam claimed her 72nd tour victory, winning by seven strokes. In describing how she no longer had the desire nor the hunger to rule the game, Sorenstam used the analogy of attempting to climb Mount Everest. "I got to the top, sat there for a while and it was nice, but all of a sudden you realize there are other mountains out there," she says. "For me, I wanted to climb those and the only way to figure that out is to get down this one and start over." In 2009 she married McGee, the son of former PGA Tour pro Jerry McGee, and they started a family soon after – Ava is 9 and Will is 7. Sorenstam neither looks back with regret nor misses competing. She has found other pursuits to keep her moving. Those ventures include a clothing line, a youth foundation, and designing golf courses in China, Korea and South Africa, and team- ing with Arnold Palmer on Royal Golf Club in Minnesota. Sorenstam launched her myr- iad business interests during the height of the economic downturn. It proved tougher than swinging into the wind. "I was used to being the best and my expectations in business were to be the best. I don't settle for second or for mediocre," she says. "But you're not going to go out there as a rookie and shoot 59, if you know what I mean." Sorenstam's learning curve was steep, and she discovered she had to devote just as much time to her business pursuits as she had to perfecting her swing if she wanted to thrive in her new field. So, she started an advisory board of successful people as business mentors, including former LPGA commissioner Charlie Mechem, and hunkered down for the long haul. "She approaches business like she does golf," sister Charlotta says. "If she has a weakness, she works on it. She becomes better at it. If she doesn't know something, she educates herself. I think it's all about her wanting to do the right thing in the right way and to be able to look back and be proud of herself and what she's done." 28 SPRING 2019 | NCGA.ORG (Top) Selfie time at the AJGA Annika Invitational; (right) Sorenstam demonstrates at the 2018 Annika Cup clinic how she mastered bunker play.

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