I stayed up late last night. I already knew the topic of my next article was going to be Annika Sorenstam and I knew exactly what I wanted to write, but its not easy thinking up a catchy title that has never been used before. "How Swede it is", nah, way too corny and overused. How about "Sorens-damn Good", nope, sounds like a bad action movie. But then I realized that this story is so impressive it doesn't need a splashy title.
Of course I am talking about Annika Sorenstam winning the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award. I know a lot of you right now are probably saying "What's the big deal? She won it last year too and it's not like she's the first female golfer to ever win the award." True, Annika did win the award last year and she joins a long list of great golfers who have previously won the award including Beth Daniel, Nancy Lopez, Kathy Whitworth, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias who won it an incredible four times in five years. What makes this award so special is that only one time prior in the history of the award has a golfer ever won in an Olympic year. Remember the games in Athens in August when everyone was on steroids? Well as it turns out, nearly every year when the summer Olympics happen, the AP Award is given out to a track star, swimmer, or gymnast. Sorenstam also beat out notable second place finisher Diana Taurasi who lead Connecticut to an NCAA basketball championship and then was named Rookie of the Year in the WNBA. She also beat third place finisher Maria Sharapova… the gorgeous tennis player who won Wimbledon plus a few other events while managing to do the talk show circuit and pose for ads and magazines all over the world while still looking stunningly hot.
It is a testament to the growing profile of women's golf worldwide and also to Annika's sheer dominance of the LPGA tour that this award has been given to her for a second time. In an era where the competitiveness on the LPGA is more intense than ever before Annika still stands head and shoulders above her competition. 2005 probably wasn't Annika's best season yet she still won 10 out of 20 starts including one major. Her winning percentage this year was 50% and she finished in the top ten 18 times! While doing this she managed to tie her own record for lowest scoring average and capture her fourth consecutive and seventh career money title.
There is no one in the world who dominates their sport the way Annika does. Serena Williams may have been close but her reign at the top was short lived, Marion Jones was considered to be one of the top athletes in the world and she excelled at many sports, and Barry Bonds one of the top hitters of any generation but the BALCO scandal has put a big fat asterisk beside both of their names in the record books. With raw talent and dedication to the game, Annika has done what these other athletes could only dream about; even with a VIP pass to the pharmacy.
She is the undisputed queen of golf and has so many records and accomplishments that it would take weeks to list them all. She is as responsible for bringing women's golf into the mainstream as Tiger was for the huge leaps that men's golf made several years back. At only 34 years of age it seems only a matter of time before Annika breaks all the remaining records that stand in her way and be remembered as the greatest female golfer to ever play the game. Annika, I salute you!