Three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member Annika Sorenstam, who followed one of the most decorated careers in golf history by becoming a fitness advocate for the next generation, has been named the recipient of the 2013 PGA First Lady of Golf Award, The PGA of America announced on Thursday.The PGA First Lady of Golf Award, inaugurated in 1998 and presented biennially since 2011, honors a woman who has made significant contributions to the promotion of the game of golf.
Sorenstam, 43, will be honored at The PGA of America Awards on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, during the 61st PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla.
Born in Bro, Sweden, Sorenstam is the first internationally born golfer to be named PGA First Lady of Golf and is the sixth USGA champion to be a recipient of the award. She joins Carol Mann (2008) and Donna Caponi (2009) as the third U.S. Women’s Open champion to receive the honor.
"Annika's impact upon women's golf in the modern era has been remarkable, setting a standard that may never be touched," said Ted Bishop, president of The PGA of America. "Her commitment to fitness and excellence made her a legend on the course, but her legacy in the game also includes a sincere dedication to growing a healthy next generation and inspiring future young women through golf. The PGA is honored to now call her the 2013 PGA First Lady of Golf."
The winner of 89 worldwide professional events on the LPGA and Ladies European Tours, including 10 major championships, Sorenstam rose to stardom in 1995 when, as a young professional who had yet to win on the LPGA Tour, she claimed the U.S. Women’s Open by one stroke over two-time champion Meg Mallon. She would win the title again in 1996, this time by six strokes, becoming just the sixth player to win the championship back-to-back.
In 2006, Sorenstam won the Women’s Open for a third time, defeating Pat Hurst in an 18-hole playoff, her final major victory before retiring from competitive golf in 2008. Sorenstam was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003. She remains the LPGA's all-time money leader ($22 million).
Sorenstam has since devoted her off-course career to being a mother and building her ANNIKA-branded businesses. They include a teaching academy, golf course design firm, financial-planning group, apparel collection, signature wines and a charitable foundation, which teaches children how to live a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness and nutrition while also providing junior female golfers with playing opportunities. Sorenstam has also served as an analyst for NBC’s television coverage of the U.S. Women’s Open.
In 2012, Sorenstam received the Bob Jones Award, the USGA’s highest honor.
"I have been so fortunate throughout my life to have people who helped pave the way for me to work hard and exceed my goals on and off the course," said Sorenstam. "I truly feel like I am living a dream and want to help the next generation do the same. It's gratifying that The PGA of America has taken notice of our programming that offers junior girls the opportunity to play first-class tournaments around the world, while also educating them about the importance of health and wellness. I'm flattered to be named the 2013 PGA First Lady of Golf."
Sorenstam is the International Ambassador for The First Tee's Nine Healthy Habits, a USGA-supported initiative. She also sponsors an American Junior Golf Association invitation-only event featuring the top 72 junior girl players from around the world. It is one of four global competitions hosted by the ANNIKA Foundation for junior female golfers.
Sorenstam and her husband, Mike McGee, live in Orlando, Fla., and are parents of a daughter, Ava 4, and a son, William, 2.