Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The End of an Era

I must confess - I didn’t see Annika Sorenstam’s retirement announcement coming. Sure, all great players have to retire sometime and she’s said things in recent years that have led people to believe she might retire in her 30s but gimme a break – did you really think she would work so hard to get her game back for the start of 2008 only to stop before she could possibly regain the #1 Rolex Ranking? Maybe I’ve got blinders on or the announcement came so early or the fact that she’s going for her third straight win this weekend at Sybase deluded me into thinking that she was playing indefinitely.

I did think that her marriage to Mike McGee next year was going to be a turning point in her emphasis on the game. I expected her to play up to that point, take a week or four off and return to play the rest of schedule. But I figured she wouldn’t have the same drive next year (shades of all that post-marriage Tiger talk!) and her quest to regain the #1 spot would come up short that way.

So it appears that her final quest is actually for the Player of the Year Award, one that Annika has already won a record eight times. As I mentioned in the
Michelob final round recap, that race is definitely on – her three wins trail Lorena Ochoa’s five but we still have two-thirds of the season to go. Kathy Whitworth’s record of 88 victories just became safe and most likely Mickey Wright’s second-place mark of 82 is too, along with Patty Berg’s 15 major victories. If Sorenstam can win the Vare Trophy this year, she would tie Whitworth for the most ever – seven. If she can finish atop the money list, she would set a new record by leading it for the ninth time.

When I told my wife the news, she said “Good for her! She deserves it!” I hadn’t really thought about it like that, but she’s right – for all she’s brought to women’s golf, Annika Sorenstam deserves to leave the game on her own terms. Good luck on your future endeavors.

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