The winner of a record eight Player of the Year awards, and six Vare Trophies given to the LPGA player with the lowest seasonal scoring average, she is the only female golfer to have shot a 59 in competition. She holds various all-time scoring records including the lowest season scoring average: 68.6969 in 2004.
Sörenstam made history at the Bank of America Colonial tournament in 2003 as the first woman to play in a men's PGA Tour event since 1945. Often known simply as "Annika," she achieved the fame of male golfers known in the same way: Arnie (Arnold Palmer), Jack (Nicklaus) and Tiger (Woods). Her growing off-course interests include the ANNIKA golf academy, golf course design, ANNIKA-branded products, and a charitable foundation.
Annika Sörenstam was born in Bro near Stockholm, Sweden. Her father Tom is a retired IBM executive, her mother Gunilla worked in a bank and her younger sister Charlotta is a professional golfer who coaches at her sister's academy. Annika and Charlotta Sörenstam are the only two sisters to have both won $1 million on the LPGA.
As a child, Sörenstam was a talented all-round sportsgirl. She was a nationally ranked junior tennis player, played football (soccer) in her hometown team Bro IK and was such a good skier that the coach of the Swedish national ski team suggested the family move to Northern Sweden to improve her skiing year round. At the age of 12 she switched to golf, sharing her first set of golf clubs with her sister—Annika got the odd numbered clubs and Charlotta the even—and earned her first handicap of 54. She was so shy as a junior she used to deliberately three putt at the end of a tournament to avoid giving the victory speech. The coaches noticed and at the next tournament both the winner and the runner-up had to give a speech. Sörenstam decided that if she were going to have to face the crowd anyway she might as well win and the deliberate misses stopped.
Her very successful amateur career included a win in the St. Rule Trophy played at St. Andrews and a runner-up finish in the Swedish national mother/daughter golf tournament. As a member of the Swedish National Team from 1987 to 1992, she played in the 1990 and 1992 Espirito Santo Trophy World Amateur Golf Team Championships, becoming World Amateur champion in 1992. Whilst waiting to start college in Sweden, Sörenstam worked as a personal assistant at the Swedish PGA and played on the Swedish Ladies Telia Tour, winning three tournaments during 1990/1991.
After a coach spotted Sörenstam playing in a collegiate event in Tokyo she moved to the United States to attend college at the University of Arizona. She won seven collegiate titles and in 1991 became the first non-American and first freshman to win the individual NCAA National Championship. She was 1991 NCAA Co-Player of the Year with Kelly Robbins, runner-up in the 1992 NCAA National Championship, 1992 Pac-10 champion and a 1991-92 NCAA All-American. At the 1992 United States Women's Amateur Golf Championship she was the runner-up to Vicki Goetze and thus received an invitation to play in the 1992 U.S. Women's Open, where she finished tied for 63rd. Having turned professional in 1992 and missing her LPGA Tour card at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament by one shot, she began her professional career on the Ladies European Tour or LET, formerly known as the WPGET.
Annika Sörenstam met her first husband David Esch in 1994 on the driving range at Moon Valley Country Club, Phoenix, Arizona, where she was an LPGA rookie practicing for a tournament and he worked for club manufacturer Ping. They were engaged at the 1995 Evian Masters, married in Lake Tahoe on 4 January 1997, and were divorced in 2005. She announced her engagement to Mike McGee, the managing director for the ANNIKA brand of businesses and son of former PGA Tour and Champions Tour player Jerry McGee, in August 2007 and they were married at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, Florida on January 10, 2009. On March 19, 2009, the couple announced that they were expecting their first child, a girl, in the fall. The birth of the child, named Ava Madelyn McGee, was announced on her blog on September 1, 2009.
Sörenstam began the transition from professional golfer to entrepreneur during the later years of her career attempting to combine her major passions, golf, fitness and charitable works, into various businesses under the ANNIKA brand with the brand statement "Share my Passion". They are all promoted by her website on which there is a blog to which she and her staff regularly contribute.
Sörenstam has undertaken a number of golf course design projects. Her first, the Annika Course, was completed at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzen, China in 2003 whilst the second was officially launched in January 2006 and opened in 2008 at Euphoria Golf Estate & Hydro in South Africa. She recently announced a new project at Mines Golf City, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia whilst projects closer to home include a redesign of the Patriots Point Links Course near Charleston, South Carolina and a course at Red Mountain Resort, British Columbia.
The ANNIKA Academy at Ginn Reunion Resort began construction in 2006 and opened in April 2007 with Sörenstam's longtime coach Henri Reis serving as head instructor, her sister Charlotta an instructor and club fitter, her personal trainer Kai Fusser focusing on overall fitness training with the owner available for coaching on certain golfing packages. The opening ceremony included a Make-A-Wish Foundation golf clinic conducted by Sörenstam who is a United States ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and it also hosted clinics for junior golfers during The Annika Invitational, an American Junior Golf Association invitation-only event featuring the top 60 girls from around the world hosted by The ANNIKA Foundation.
Other branches of the ANNIKA business include a clothing line with Cutter & Buck, a limited label wine produced in partnership with Wente Vineyards, and a signature fragrance developed by SA Fragrances. Sörenstam also hosted the Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika, an event on the LPGA Tour in 2007 and 2008, and the Scandinavian TPC Hosted by ANNIKA on the Ladies European Tour during its last four years from 2005 through 2008. She won the latter tournament in 2005 and 2006. Both tournaments had their last event in 2008.
One of Sörenstam's hobbies is cooking. She has participated in cooking demonstrations during LPGA tournaments and has talked about enrolling in cooking school. Before the 2003 season Sörenstam took the opportunity to improve her culinary skills by working eight hour shifts in the kitchens of the Lake Nona Country Club. Sörenstam has had a serious interest in investments, real estate and the stock market since she earned her first LPGA check and in August 2006 was invited to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.