Few people in the world of golf have had a better – and busier – couple of weeks than Annika Sorenstam.
On April 19, she was elected to PGA membership. And now she is creating her own tournament for NCAA Division I women.
The ANNIKA Intercollegiate, as it will be called, will debut Sept. 27-30, 2014, and will feature 12 of the nation's top women's squads in a high-profile kickoff to the college golf season. The 54-hole, stroke-play tournament will be played on the Watson Course at the Reunion Resort in Orlando, Fla. Reunion, of course, is also the home base of Sorenstam's ANNIKA Academy.
The highlight of the tournament weekend will be a gala reception in which Sorenstam will present the inaugural ANNIKA Award to the nation's top female collegiate player. The ANNIKA Award is the female equivalent of the Haskins Award, which for 42 years has been given to the most outstanding Division I male golfer. Selection is governed by the Haskins Commission of Columbus, Ga., which will oversee the vote of players, coaches and media for both the Haskins and ANNIKA awards.
''This event offers a fantastic platform to expand my foundation's mission to establish greater playing opportunities for junior and college golfers alike,'' said Sorenstam, the 1991 NCAA Champion and co-player of the year. ''We hold our AJGA invitational on the Watson Course at Reunion every year, so I am excited that many of the girls who competed here as juniors will be able to come back and play with their college teams.''
Sorenstam created the ANNIKA Foundation as a way to teach children the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness and nutrition, and offer aspiring junior golfers opportunities to pursue their dreams. The foundation has partnered with such organizations as SPARK, Florida Hospital for Children in support of its Healthy 100 Kids initiative and The First Tee in development of the Nine Healthy Habits curriculum for children.
It annually conducts four major golf events for junior girls, including an award-winning AJGA tournament, ANNIKA Invitational at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Fla.; the ANNIKA Invitational at Mission Hills, the first all-girls junior tournament in China; the ANNIKA Invitational in Europe; and the ANNIKA Cup, a team event for the top juniors in Sweden. The Foundation awards SPARK grants to schools, is a financial supporter of Healthy 100 Kids and has endowed an ACE scholarship with the AJGA. Other key initiatives include ANNIKA Junior Day, the ANNIKA Inspiration Award and scholarships for aspiring Swedish juniors.