Annika Sorenstam, universally regarded as one of the most dominant players in the history of women’s golf, has been selected as the recipient of the U.S. Golf Association’s 2012 Bob Jones Award, USGA officials have announced. The award will be presented Feb. 4, 2012, at the USGA’s Annual Meeting in Houston.
The USGA’s highest honor has been presented annually since 1955 in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. The award seeks to recognize a person who emulates Jones’ spirit, his personal qualities and his attitude toward the game and its players.
“Annika has consistently exhibited the specific character trait – distinguished sportsmanship – that the Bob Jones Award was established to recognize, and has done so while achieving a level of success that few have equaled,” said USGA President Jim Hyler. “It is not only the number of tournaments that she won during her incredible career, but the way she conducted herself, always gracious in victory and defeat, always respectful of her opponents and the game itself.”
In 2008, Sorenstam was named a USGA Ambassador, a role in which she helps the USGA make the game more accessible to players of all skill levels. She has helped the USGA educate golfers through a series of “Play by the Rules” video vignettes and served as the honorary chairman for the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.
In 2009, she was named a Global Ambassador by the International Golf Federation, and she supported the successful effort to have golf added to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She dedicates much of her time to the ANNIKA Foundation, which she started in 2007 as a way to teach children the importance of embracing a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness and nutrition, and offer aspiring junior golfers opportunities to pursue their dreams.
The foundation has partnered with the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) to establish the Annika Invitational, an annual tournament for the top 72 female junior golfers, and the ANNIKA Invitational at Mission Hills, Asia’s first all-girls junior tournament. In 2011 the foundation partnered with The First Tee and the Florida Hospital to create Nine Healthy Habits, a school curriculum that promotes kids living a healthy, active lifestyle.
“It is truly an honor to receive the prestigious Bob Jones Award from the USGA, as the past recipients are some of the greatest names in the history of the game,” said Sorenstam. “He is known for his character and I have always tried to pride myself on being respectful to others both on and off the course. Though I am no longer competing, I appreciate the USGA recognizing our hard work and I will continue to try to grow and promote the game through many foundation initiatives.”
Sorenstam, who began playing golf at the age of 12, enjoyed a successful amateur career that included the 1991 NCAA Division I individual title and a runner-up finish at the 1992 U.S. Women’s Amateur. She was a member of the Swedish team that won the 1992 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship shortly before she turned professional.
During her 15-year career, Sorenstam earned 90 professional worldwide victories, including 72 on the LPGA Tour, 10 of which are major championships, including the 1995, 1996 and 2006 U.S. Women’s Open titles. She earned a record eight Rolex LPGA Player of the Year awards, a record-tying eight money list titles and six Vare Trophies for the lowest scoring average. She played on eight European Solheim Cup Teams and served as an assistant captain for the victorious European Solheim Cup Team in 2011. At the LPGA Tour’s 2001 Standard Register Ping, she became the first woman to shoot 59 in a professional round, and in 2003 she became the first woman to compete in a PGA Tour event since 1945 when she played in the Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas.
Sorenstam was inducted into the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame in 2003. Among the many honors she has received was the 2003 Patty Berg Award, which recognizes contributions to women’s golf. She was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year three times, in 2003, 2004 and 2005. She was named the Female Player of the Year eight times by the Golf Writers Association of America.
Sorenstam stepped away from professional golf after the 2008 season to focus on her family and the ANNIKA brand of businesses, which include the ANNIKA Academy, ANNIKA Financial Group, ANNIKA Course Design, the ANNIKA Collection of apparel with Cutter & Buck, signature high-end wines with Wente Vineyards and an online retail shop, shopannika.com. Sorenstam and her husband, Mike McGee, live in Florida with their two young children, Ava and Will.