Somewhere out there Annika Sorenstam is reflecting on her accomplishments of this past season. Or perhaps shes already done that. Maybe shes 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.
She needs more and more, if just to feel the same level of satisfaction shes felt over the last few years. In crude terms, shes an achievement junkie.
For me, its really self-satisfaction, Sorenstam said at this years ADT Championship. Its the contentment I get out it.
Its 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.
Shes 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 wasnt specific on my goals, or if I wasnt pushing myself higher, I think it would be tough for me to go out there and practice, she said.
This aint easy. If shes going to keep pushing herself ' her mind and her body, at the age of 35, with all that shes already accomplished, there must be more to be had.
Like winning the single season Grand Slam. Or Kathy Whitworths 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 seasons 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 McDonalds 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. Womens 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.
The final numbers: 10 LPGA Tour wins (in 20 starts); two majors; $2,588,240; one money title; one scoring title; one player of the year trophy.
Yes, I won a lot of tournaments. But I just feels like its been a good year from everything that Ive gone through the last year. Its not just about the victories.
Things have been wonderful, almost too good inside the ropes for Sorenstam over the past few years. Off the course, however, theres been turmoil.
Her marriage was on the rocks most of last season, and she filed for divorce in February.
Last year was a big blur, she said about a season in which she won eight times. I really dont know how I survived a lot of it and how I was able to focus once I was inside the ropes. This year, I had a little more energy.
Golf has been my savior, theres no doubt about it. Its great to have something that you enjoy to fall back on. Ive spent my time thinking about golf. Ive added a few tournaments. Its been very helpful.
As Sorenstam sat and made these statements on the eve of the season finale, it was hard to believe that three years ago, at the same tournament, she was contemplating retirement, talking about her outside interests and the possibility of becoming a mother.
But no longer.
A few years ago, things were looking a little different and I had some different plans and some different goals, she said. Then it took a little bit of a spin and I had to adjust, and here I am a few years later ' a different outlook on life and some different goals at the moment, and right now Im focusing my life on golf. Thats what I have.
Three years ago, Sorenstam was also talking about one day winning 50 tournaments. She now has 66. And now Whitworths all-time record of 88 is within reach.
If you think of the last few years, then its realistic, she said. I dont know if I can keep up the high level of golf. I need to do this for another three, four or five years. I dont know if I could do that. One of the reasons is obviously to push the body so hard. Another reason is, do I want to continue on this pace, that level, week after week?
But continue she will, because, as she stated, golf is her life at the moment.
Next season will likely be much like this one. She will try to win as many events as possible. She will try and win all four major championships. She will try and win everything there is to win.
And she will keep challenging herself and pushing herself and seeing just how great she can be. Because that is who Annika Sorenstam is.
Its not like I have to do this, she said. This is something that I put on myself, and I enjoy the challenge and like to see if I can have a final destination. I like to see if I can do the journey, you know what I mean?