December 29, 2005

Remarkable Just Routine for Annika

By Mercer Baggs - December 28, 2005

Annika Sorenstam has won 43 LPGA Tour events over the last five seasons.

“Somewhere out there Annika Sorenstam is reflecting on her accomplishments of this past season. Or perhaps she’s already done that. Maybe she’s already outlining her goals for 2006.

Regardless, she will have a difficult time matching her most recent results, which is just fine with her - she needs the motivation.

You see, achievement is like a drug to Sorenstam. She craves it, she needs it. But she’s experienced it so many times now that she’s almost built up immunity to it.

She needs more and more, if just to feel the same level of satisfaction she’s felt over the last few years. In crude terms, she’s an achievement junkie.

“For me, it’s really self-satisfaction,” Sorenstam said at this year’s ADT Championship. “It’s the contentment I get out it.”

It’s not enough for her to win the most tournaments each year, or to win a major championship, or the money title, or player of the year honors.

She’s done all of that for five years running now. She needs new experiences, new achievements, new goals – something to keep her going, something to keep her working as hard as or even harder than she has.

“If I just went out there and wasn’t specific on my goals, or if I wasn’t pushing myself higher, I think it would be tough for me to go out there and practice,” she said.

This ain’t easy. If she’s going to keep pushing herself – her mind and her body, at the age of 35, with all that she’s already accomplished, there must be more to be had.

Like winning the single season Grand Slam. Or Kathy Whitworth’s career wins record.

Sorenstam began this year with the goal of accomplishing the former, and, in the process, working her way closer to the latter.

Her season began promisingly with a victory in her first start, and then another in her second, and yet another in her third. That third triumph was actually her fifth in a row, dating back to last season, which tied her with Nancy Lopez for the most consecutive tournaments won in tour history.

It also came at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Sorenstam won the season’s first major by eight strokes. The Grand Slam was no longer hypothetical; it was possible.

After two more wins in four more starts, Sorenstam entered the McDonald’s LPGA Championship as the two-time defending champion. She left as the first player since Patty Berg (1937-39 Titleholders Championship) to win the same major three straight years.

The Grand Slam was no longer possible; it was probable.

Sorenstam was the overwhelming favorite to win the U.S. Women’s Open at Cherry Hills. But three closing bogeys in the second round put her out of contention early. She finished at 12 over, in a tie for 23rd place.

There may have been a post-Grand Slam hangover, because she won only once in her next six starts. But, just as she did a year ago, she won three of her final four events, defending her titles in the Samsung World Championship, Mizuno Classic and ADT Championship.”

“Continued … More on Annika Sorenstam”

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