Sorenstam has awarded a sponsors exemption to her tournament to14-year-old MacKinzie (Mac) Kline of Encinitas, Calif., one of the top-rated junior golfers in the country.
Sorenstam, who will host the $2.6 million tournament at the Arnold Palmer designed RiverTowne Country Club Course at the Belvidere Resort, May 31-June 3, 2007, learned of MacKinzies rare heart condition as well as her love for the game of golf and decided to make her dream of playing on the LPGA Tour come true.
Due to her medical condition, Kline cannot walk long distances without becoming fatigued. As a result, the LPGA has issued a ruling making Kline the first player in the organizations history to be able to utilize a cart during her rounds due to a medical condition.
The LPGA is pleased MacKinzie Kline will compete in the Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika, said LPGA Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens. As a result of a congenital heart defect, MacKinzie requested permission to use a cart and have access to oxygen during the competition.
After an assessment of her circumstances and careful consideration, the LPGA has granted MacKinzies request. We are confident that the use of a cart and oxygen will not provide MacKinzie with an unfair competitive advantage.
MacKinzie is a very unique and determined young lady and we are thrilled to have her play in the Ginn Tribute, said Sorenstam. What she has accomplished, not only in golf, but for the community is extraordinary.
This is a dream come true for me, said Kline of her first LPGA appearance. Ive always had the dream to play on the LPGA Tour and Annika has made this a reality for me. Words cannot express my appreciation for this honor.
Kline was born with a very complex congenital heart defect named Transposition of the Greater Vessels, asplenia, single ventricle and her liver on the opposite side of her body. She underwent open heart surgery within the first eight weeks of birth and then again before her second birthday. Doctors said she was lucky to be alive and advised that she should stay away from contact sports or those that required aerobic exercise.
She then took up the game of golf and became one of the top juniors in the country. She qualified for the U.S. Womens amateur, but had to decline because she could not walk 18 holes.
Kline suffered a setback in 2005, when she suddenly required more sleep than usual and began to struggle on and off the course. Doctors repaired a hole in her heart and discovered a blood clot above the valve of her single ventricle, which they did not remove because of the risk of the surgery.
Kline continues to go through monthly blood draws at a childrens hospital, multiple medications on a daily basis, six heart cauterizations and regular visits to her doctor.
She has been granted a USGA exemption to utilize a cart when she plays and she also has her oxygen unit with her.
Kline has done extensive community service work to create awareness for her condition. At the age of 10, Mac became the National Spokesperson for the Childrens Heart Foundation, an organization that raises money for CHD research. She set a goal to raise $1 million for the organization and has recently reached the $725,000 mark. The Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika will make a charity donation toward her vision following the tournament.