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Retired LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam makes a splash in her new life

It has been two years since Annika Sorenstam retired as the most accomplished women's professional golfer ever, but she is showing no signs of slowing down.

Even if she is showing.

Pregnant with her second child, Sorenstam made an appearance at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club in Pasco County last week to give a clinic for the First Tee of Brooksville and select students from Franklin Middle Magnet School in Tampa. Later in the evening, she was given the Saint Leo University Women in Sports Achievement Award in a ceremony on the school's campus.

Sorenstam, 40, hit a few balls on the driving range with members of the Saint Leo women's golf team and fielded questions from the modest crowd.

"It's been five months since I picked up a driver,'' Sorenstam said. "I don't have any plans to return to golf. It's not like I'm getting any younger. But the kids out there (on the LPGA) are. I've stepped away, and I'm sticking with that answer. For over 20 years, I would wake up every day thinking about golf, grinding away. Then one day I just got tired of it. I would shoot 70 and not be happy. Then I'd shoot 69 and not be happy with that. It was time to step away."

But that doesn't mean Sorenstam sat idle. That's not her style. She did not win 72 LPGA tournaments (93 overall) and 10 major championships by being outworked. She started the Annika Foundation, which provides programs for kids to learn about health and fitness. There is also the Annika Golf Foundation, Annika brand clothing products, a course design business, a wine label and even a perfume. An avid cook, she's thinking about writing a cookbook or perhaps enrolling in a cooking school.

"Once I retired, I started digging deep into what I really wanted to do,'' Sorenstam said. "I just wanted to do what makes me happy. Life's too short not to.''

While her playing days are behind her (although she didn't rule out playing some tournaments down the road), Sorenstam is still involved in the game. She is on an LPGA advisory board and gives clinics whenever she has time.

"I still keep up with the game,'' Sorenstam said. "I watch as many tournaments as possible and keep track of what the players are doing. There aren't as many tournaments now, but there are a lot of good young players coming up.''

At last week's clinic, her message was two-fold. She stressed the importance of kids' staying active, as well as having fun playing golf. Afterward, she passed out autographed pictures and posed for photos with the junior players.

"Find a way that works for you,'' Sorenstam said. "Don't feel the pressure of having to win every junior tournament. I didn't, and it worked for me. That's what I'm afraid of. Sometimes they get pushed too hard too soon, and they end up leaving the game.''

She doesn't plan to push her kids. She has a 17-month-old girl, and her second child with husband Mike McGee is due in June. If they want to play golf, fine. If not, she said, that's fine, too.

"I didn't start playing golf until I was 12 and didn't get serious about it until I was 16,'' Sorenstam said. "I tried a lot of different sports, and I think that's good. A lot of times kids spend five hours or so sitting in front of the television. That's not good. They need to be active. They need to be out there doing something at least an hour a day.''

Sorenstam, who lives in Orlando, appears to be happy with her new life. A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, she said she has been able to flip the switch from competitive golfer to businesswoman/mother without any withdrawals.

"Before it was all about trophies and birdies,'' Sorenstam said. "Now it's all about family.''

Retired LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam makes a splash in her new life 02/03/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 11:27am]
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