Annikas Press Conference Transcript

By Golf Channel NewsroomMay 13, 2008, 4:00 pm

ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Everyone thank you for coming in ask joining us. I have Annika Sorenstam in here and I'm going to turn it over to her at this time. She has a special announcement to make.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, hi, everybody, and thank you for coming. I thought before we start this press conference, I wanted to make some remarks on something that's been on my mind for a little while and I wanted to share it all for you. So I think last time I saw so many cameras was at the Colonial, and that was a life-changing moment, so I guess we have another one.
After some serious consideration, I have made a decision to step away from competitive golf after this season. And this is obviously a very difficult decision for me to make, because I love this game very much. But I know it's the right one.
Q. How do you know it's the right one?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I wanted to let you all know that. I feel like I have a responsibility to the LPGA, to my fans, and I wanted to announce it as early as I could.
The reason for this decision is that I have other priorities in my life. I have a lot of dreams that I want to follow, I want to live, and I'm getting married in January. Mike and I want to start a family. 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 lines, etc.
I am very, very proud of what I've achieved. Golf has been great to me. I think I've achieved more than I ever thought I could. I have given it all and it's been fun.
I have come back from an injury, and I feel strong, I feel healthy, and the season has started really well, and I'm leaving the game on my terms.
I was watching a press conference a few months ago with Brett Farve when he announced his retirement, and some of the things that he said was, you know, he loves the competition, he is just tired of the daily grind, and I feel the same way.
While I'm stepping away from competition, I will be very engaged and very involved in the game of golf, but in a different way. I want to make sure that I can get back to the game that's been great to me, by helping and inspiring young kids to develop and reach their dreams. I know I can do that with the growth of my academy. I can do that with the growth of my foundation, and I want 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. So I'm looking forward to doing clinics, outings, promotions, you name it.
I am also very proud of women's golf and the state it's in today. I think the last 15 years, I've seen a tremendous change, and it's really grown to an amazing place. I'm just very, very happy to have been a part of it and had a chance to follow my dream. And I believe that this decision comes at the right time for the LPGA, it's in very good hands with great talent and a commissioner that really cares.
Of course, there is teamwork behind my success and I wanted to thank some people. Some of them are here and some of them are not. I wanted to start with my parents for their love and support. I want to thank Mike, my fiancee, I'm not sure where he is, but thanks for your support and love, as well; my sister, for her friendship; my caddie, Terry, for his hard work and his dedication; my agent, Mark Steinberg for his hard work and helping me to go in the right direction; my coach, Henri Reis, for giving me all the knowledge; all of my sponsors for their support and sticking with me; to my friends, some of them are here, I appreciate your friendship as well; and of course, the media, thank you for writing some nice things about me; and then also the fans that have been cheering me on for all these years.
Last but not least, you know, having said all this, there's still plenty of golf to be played. I have another seven months left, and my goal is to win tournaments, many tournaments. Thank you.
Q. Can you address the timing of why today, this point in the season? And the other question is: When you say you're stepping away from the game, do you envision playing at all competitively after this season?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: The reason why we picked today is, I mean, I felt the responsibility to let the LPGA know and the fans know. The year goes by so quickly and all of a sudden it's going to be December, and I just wanted to be fair to everybody.
You know, I wanted to have a chance to just focus on the game. And I didn't want to do it too soon, because again, I want to come back and play some good golf and focus on that. So therefore the timing, we just thought this was a good time.
In regards to stepping away, you know, December will be my last tournament. If it's forever, I'm not really sure, but it's definitely for now.
Q. Breaking Kathy Whitworth's record, did you give any consideration to that sort of history?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Obviously 88 wins is a huge achievement. I feel like I achieved so much more than I ever thought I could, and to beat her record does not motivate me. I am very happy in my life. I'm very content with what I've achieved, and it just feels right. I'm at peace with what I'm doing. I still have energy and excitement to finish the year on a strong note, and that's the way I look at it.
Q. You mentioned this is the right time for the LPGA for you to leave, but also with Lorena playing as well as she's played, did you consider the idea of just having a rivalry with her and what the game might be losing if you're not around?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Lorena is playing some fantastic golf, but there's no doubt, she's been dominating for two years. Again, that doesn't motivate me to keep on going. I enjoy playing with Lorena. She's definitely taking the Tour to a higher level and I enjoy the times I'm going to play with her. She was a lot of fun last week, and I think we're going to have more of those couple of events the next coming months.
Q. With the injury last year, did you give any consideration to retiring then, or did you want to come back and prove to yourself and others that you could still do it and then make this decision?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, the injury just made me appreciate what I achieved, and it made me appreciate the game and being out here. I wanted to come back but I wasn't ready. I wanted to leave on my terms when it felt right. I didn't want an injury to take me away from this game. Now I feel at peace. This is the right thing to do and now I'm healthy and that's the way I want it to be.
Q. You obviously have been thinking about this for a while, but can you describe the feeling and the words that actually came out of your mouth a couple of minutes ago, what was going through your mind?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Of course, I've been a little nervous. I can compare it to coming down the stretch and a 2-putt for a win; I'm nervous then, too.
When you know it's right and you know it's the right thing to do, I mean, I don't -- I haven't questioned myself. I have no second thoughts. You know, I guess I'm glad that I shared it with everybody that covers golf and follows women's golf in sports. I thought it would be a fair thing to share.
But I am going to focus on my game the next seven months. I'm a huge competitor, and right now I'm second on the Money List, and people that know me knows I don't settle for second. So I have a whole lot of work ahead of myself, but I know what to do and I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Speaking of that, have you laid out a schedule for the rest of the year, how many events you might?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, I have a schedule and I'm sticking with the schedule I decided to play earlier in the year, probably total of 25, and this is my eighth or something like that. So I have a lot of events left all around the world.
Q. Can you speak to what you've left behind to golf, and women's golf, specifically?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I really haven't. I really want to continue to be part of the game. Like I said, I want to continue to help inspire kids and I want to be, you know, there to help women's sports. I might not be inside the ropes, but I'm looking forward to another part of my life where I can help in different ways.
Q. What have you enjoyed the most about this, about your career, and what have you enjoyed the least?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, the first one is easy. I mean, I love the competition. I've been fortunate to have a hobby as my job and I've been able to travel around the world and met some wonderful people and seen some wonderful places; without golf, I wouldn't have any of that. I have so much to be thankful for, I really do.
You know, being an athlete and being at the top, it takes a lot of hard work. It takes some sacrifices, and you know, I've enjoyed that journey as well. But I would say traveling and being away from home and friends and family is probably the hardest thing.
Q. You mentioned your competitiveness probably five times. I'm wondering if you think you're going to be able to do this cold turkey versus, say, a gradual withdrawal where you maybe play a half dozen times next year and sort of gradually bow out.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: That's a good question. I believe I can. I normally do what I want to do. You know, I enjoy the competition, but I'm also a player that, you know, I care too much about this game and I care too much about playing well; that if I can't have it 100%, then I don't want to give any. I know what it's like to play at the top, and you know, I don't want to do anything else. So it's either on or it's not.
Q. Can you talk about what you think playing the ADT Championship will be like? I know you and Mike, your relationship kind of started down there at the event, and also, will that be your final event that you would play in competitively?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I can tell you, it will not be my last tournament. It will be my last on the LPGA, but I'm going overseas to play in a few events.
You know, I'm not really sure how I will feel down there. It's a special place. You know, I really don't want to think about it. It's tough enough. I want to try and enjoy every tournament and every week, and really absorb it and I don't want to think too far ahead. Seven months is going to go by really quickly, and let's just take this week.
Q. Just curious if you could speak to how much you think you helped sort of globalize the game. Obviously if you look at the top of women's golf, it's much more international than it was 15, 20 years ago; how much of a role did you play in that, do you think?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I would agree that it's a lot more global today than it was. I mean, I'm only one face of the LPGA, one international face, and I mean, I come from a country where we have several international stars that have helped me to pave the way for me. So I'm just happy to be a part of it and hopefully I put in -- I've helped it a little bit and it's totally a team effort from everybody.
You know, the LPGA is as good as it's ever been. Like I said earlier, I'm just happy I had a chance to be part of such a wonderful time.
Q. Just curious when you talk about achievements and accomplishments in the game, what makes you the proudest?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I'm lucky. I have several things that make me crowd. Overall, just the consistency, playing every year and being in contention and to be Player of the Year eight times is something I'm very proud of.
To single a few things out: Shooting 59; my performance at the Colonial; winning ten majors; there's a lot of things, I mean, three U.S. Opens, my mind is going a little blank. I'm just very thankful for everything.
Q. How important was it for you to really go out on top? I mean, you just beat an LPGA field by seven strokes last week; how important is that to you, as opposed to playing later in life and maybe struggling to play at such a high level that you've always been used to?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, you know, I enjoy playing golf at the top level, and you know, the win the other day was just a bonus, really. I had made this decision awhile back. Again, I almost felt at peace winning on Sunday knowing what was going to happen here today. You know, I'm all about giving 100%. I know what it's like to be at the top, and therefore, I think the timing is perfect. I've come back and I know I can do it and I've given it all, and that's really what matters to me.
Q. It seems like you've been contemplating this for a few years, when is the first time you thought about retiring? How long ago was that?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You know, using the 'r' word, I'm stepping away from competition. I've thought about it for a little while. You know, when you achieve so many great things and I'm just very happy with life and you start thinking, what else is important in life, and what else do I want to achieve on the golf course. It's been a year or so where I've just been very content and I felt like when I come back after the injury, I've proven to myself I can do it and you know, it's a special feeling for myself.
Q. What will be your final tournament?
Q. Until then, how difficult is it for you to look around and say, 'This is the last time I'm going to be here?'
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, it's going to be tough. I'm going to miss the tournaments, the people. But it's a decision I've made, and you know, I hope to enjoy it but absorb a little more than I have in the past where I'm just so competitive and so focused inside the ropes.
You know, I will leave with some great memories from every place, and that will carry me on to the next phase in my life.
Q. We were wondering, are you going to be building any more ANNIKA Academies in any other parts of the country?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: As of now, I don't have any plans to build another ANNIKA Academy. I'm very proud of the one that we have in Orlando, and I'm just trying to get that going and make it successful. I'm going to have time to maybe think about that in a few months, so I'll let you know.
Q. In making this decision, did you talk to any of your friends in the golf game and any of the high-profile game whether you made the right decision, or did you make this on your own without any advice to other people in the golf game?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I have spoken -- first of all, I made this decision totally on my own. This is something that came from the heart. I've obviously shared it with my family and my friends, all my sponsors, the people I work with. But I've spoken to a few players about it, and it was more of a, 'I'm going to let you know, this is what I'm doing.' I mean, I knew this is right, and you know, you don't have to ask anybody else's opinion about your career; like I said, this just comes from the heart.
Q. One of the things you do want to get into is golf course architecture, wondering how much that will be a part of your non-playing days. And maybe if you could just give us the status of a project that you're working on in British Columbia and Canada, please.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, my golf course design business is booming, I would say. I'm working on my fifth golf course, and there are two more in the works, so that's another area that I will spend a lot of time on and give back to the game, and I'm excited about that.
The Canadian course, right now we're in permit stages and we hope to start clearing this summer. The goal is to be ready by the Olympics, by 2010.
Q. How will this affect the Ginn Tribute?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: It will not affect anything. I'm still the hostess. I'm still going to go there. I mean, hopefully I will perform better this year than last year. You know, being the hostess and being a part of the game is something I'm going to continue in the future. So nothing is changing as far as I know, not from my end, anyway.
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Annika, thanks so much for your time and good luck this week.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Related Links:
  • Video: Annika 'Stepping Away'
  • Annika Through the Years
  • Full Coverage - Sybase Classic
  • Whan details LPGA changes for 2018 and beyond

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 8:56 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – The Race to the CME Globe’s season-long series and its big-bang finish at the CME Group Tour Championship are secured for another six years.

    Tour commissioner Mike Whan announced a contract extension with CME Group through 2023 in his annual state-of-the-tour address Thursday at the Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Whan also outlined changes to next year’s tournament schedule and detailed specifics of the revamp of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, with a new Q-School Series devised as the final stage beginning next year.

    Highlights from Whan’s address:

    Extending the CME Race . . .

    The Race to the CME Globe, a season-long competition for a $1 million jackpot, will be played at least six more years, with Whan announcing a contract extension through 2023.

    “We’re pretty excited about that,” Whan said.

    The LPGA is also close to finalizing details that will keep the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.

    2018 schedule will include two new West Coast events . . .

    The LPGA is likely going to lose three events next year, but it will gain three new ones, leaving the tour with 34 events, including the UL International Crown. That’s the same number of events being played this year. Total prize money is expected to reach $69 million, up from the record $65 million played for this season.

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    The Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada is off next year’s schedule, and the Lorena Ochoa Match Play also is not expected to return. The McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open is not returning, but only because it is sliding off the schedule to move up early on the 2019 schedule.

    Whan said two new West Coast events are being added, and they will be positioned on the calendar next to the Lotte Championship in Hawaii, to give players more reasons to stay out west.

    Whan said there’s also a new international event being added to the schedule, but details of the new events won’t be released until the full schedule is released sometime after Thanksgiving.

    “I hope you’ll agree that stability and predictability haven’t always been the calling card of the LPGA, but it has been the last few years,” Whan said. “I’m proud to tell you that the revenues of the LPGA in the last five or six years are up almost 90 percent. We have added 20 title sponsors and over 20 official marketing partners in the last five or six years. Don’t know too many sports that could claim that.”

    Q-School officially overhauled . . .

    Whan said the LPGA Qualifying Tournament will still be played in three stages next year, but the final stage will get a makeover as the Q-School Series.

    The LPGA will continue to host first and second stages, but instead of a five-round final stage, there will be an eight-round finals series, with two four-round tournaments scheduled in back-to-back weeks in the same city, with cumulative scores used over eight rounds. The new Q-Series site will be announced early next year.

    A field of 108 will make the Q-Series finals, with 40 to 50 LPGA tour cards up for grabs.

    The Q-Series field will be filled by players finishing 101st to 150th on the LPGA money list, players finishing 31st to 50th on the Symetra Tour money list, with up to 10 players from among the top 75 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings who don’t have LPGA membership. Also, the field will include the top five in the Golfweek Sagarin College Rankings. The rest of the field will be filled by players advancing through Q-School’s second stage, which could be anywhere from 23 to 33 players, depending how many from the world rankings and college rankings choose to go to the Q-Series.

    Ryu, S.H. Park among winners at Rolex awards

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 5:51 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – The Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy winners won’t be determined until Sunday’s finish of the CME Group Tour Championship, but seven other awards were presented Thursday during the LPGA’s Rolex Awards dinner at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort.

    The awards and winners:

    William and Mousie Powell Award – Katherine Kirk won an award given to the player “whose behavior and deeds best exemplify the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA.” Kirk won the Thornberry Classic this year, her third LPGA title. “Some people ask me if I feel obligated to give back to the game,” Kirk said. “I think it’s a privilege.”

    Heather Farr Perseverance Award – Tiffany Joh, who had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma earlier this year, thanked the Farr family and all those who supported Joh through her diagnosis and recovery.

    “I found a great quote from Ram Dass, `We are all just walking each other home,’” Joh said. “I’ve really come to understand the value of all my relationships, no matter how fleeting or profound they seem.”

    The Commissioner’s Award – Roberta Bowman, outgoing chair of the LPGA Board of Directors, was honored for her service the last six years. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan called her “my friend, my boss and my hero.” Bowman deflected the praise for her back on to the tour, thanking Whan, LPGA staff, players, sponsors, fans and the media.

    “The world needs more role models for little girls,” Bowman said. “And they don’t need to look much farther than the LPGA.”

    Ellen Griffin Rolex Award and Nancy Lopez Golf Achievement Award – Sandy LaBauve, who founded the LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf program, was honored as the first person to win both these awards.

    The Griffin Award honors golf teachers and the Lopez Award honors an LPGA professional who emulates the values Lopez demonstrated. LaBauve is the daughter of Jack and Sherry Lumpkin, both teachers of the game.

    “This program doesn’t belong to me,” LaBauve said of LPGA-Girls’ Golf. “I merely planted the seed. The fruit belongs to all of us.”

    Rolex Annika Major Award – So Yeon Ryu won the award, named for Annika Sorenstam, for the best overall performance in women’s major championships this year. She won the ANA Inspiration and tied for third at the U.S. Women’s Open.

    “It’s such an honor to win an award named after Annika Sorenstam,” Ryu told Sorenstam during the presentation. “It’s a special award for me.”

    Rolex Rookie of the Year Award – Sung Hyun Park won the honor, telling the audience in a message translated from Korean that she was disappointed failing to win the KLPGA’s Rookie of the Year Award and was grateful for a dream come true getting the chance to win it on the LPGA.

    Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.

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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.

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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.