Sorenstam plots new course
Swedish legend looks forward to retirement and life away from the golf course.
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2008 14:48 GMT

Annika Sorenstam waves goodbye to a long glorious career [GALLO/GETTY]
Annika Sorenstam built a stellar playing career by working hard, having an unrelenting passion for golf and making all the right choices, a regime the Swede has adhered to right up until her decision to retire.

Next month, the 38-year-old will pack away her clubs after the Dubai Masters and embark on what she says is the "next stage of her life", moving on to new challenges after spending the last 14 years amassing 72 LPGA titles, including 10 majors.

Sorenstam has few regrets about walking away from a sport that has made giant strides in attracting a global audience on the back of her success over the last decade.

No regrets

"I am going to miss the competition and the adrenaline rush and excitement of the last few holes of a final round on a Sunday," former world number one Sorenstam said ahead of this weekend's Lexus Cup, her final LPGA-sanctioned event.

"But I won't miss the daily grind of working on the game or spending hour after hour in the gym.

"When I started it was a fun thing, then it became my job and eventually a bit of a chore.

"Add to that the pressure every day to perform, to shoot under par every time you play.

"I would rise to that occasion in the past and thrive on it but I feel I am full now, I'm content and don't need to do it any more.

"But at the time I loved it."

Injury woes

Sorenstam, who is captaining an International team facing Asia in the Ryder Cup-style matchplay tournament here, said her decision to retire was an easy one after a neck problem deprived her of power and off-course activities became an integral part of life.

"In 2007, I had to battle back from an injury and managed to win in Dubai," she added.

"As I practised in the off-season, I realised my focus wasn't there...my motivation wasn't like it had been in previous years.

"I was getting very involved in other things and I was enjoying them.

"So I made up my mind in February that this would be my last year."

Since making that decision public in May, Sorenstam has continued to juggle a busy playing schedule with her other interests and is looking forward to a time when she can focus on the projects she has initiated away from the driving range.

"Now I am still competing, so work from early morning until late at night.

"I practise and play and then get involved in my off-course activities in the evenings," Sorenstam said.

Sorenstam will now help to shape the future of children with dreams of emulating her achievements, by honing their skills, hosting their tournaments and building the courses they will play on.

Sorenstam has plenty to keep her busy in her post-golf career [GALLO/GETTY]
New life

"Once I stop playing, I will be able to devote all my time to my academies, foundation work, course design and hosting events," she said.

"I love those things and that's what will make it easier to step away from competing.

"I have the passion for these other things.

"I care for them all equally. Some take more time than others from start to finish.

"A lot of my courses are still awaiting approval and once we get that I will need to continue work on them.

"So the timing is really good."

Eight times Player of the Year on the LPGA Tour and already inducted into golf's Hall of Fame, the modest Sorenstam finds it difficult to comprehend the extent of her achievements and how highly she is regarded.

"It's flattering to hear people referring to me as a legend.

"Sometimes it's hard to put it in perspective when it's you," she added.

"I'm just a little girl from Sweden and when you start to be compared with the people that I looked up to as a kid, sometimes you have to pinch yourself.

"Obviously I am very proud of all that I have achieved and would never have dreamed that things turned out as they did when I first started."

The next stage of Sorenstam's life is already in full flow and she hopes that the legacy of her playing days will be long-lasting and remembered fondly.

"I hope that as well as my performances, people will also remember a player who had a lot of sportsmanship, someone that loved a challenge, really loved the game and was there to help put it in a better place for the next generation," she said.

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