|Annika Sorenstam in Sun City|
(Thursday 19 January 2006 – Gary Player CC, Sun City, SA) – Annika Sörenstam will team up with her childhood role model Liselotte Neumann this week when she represents Sweden in the Women’s World Cup of Golf at Sun City.
The eight time World number one said it was ‘a great honour’ to be playing with ‘one of the pioneers (of golf) from Sweden’, adding: “I will never forget the day she won, well I don’t think she will forget it either, the U.S. Open.
“I remember just walking down to get a newspaper and she was covered everywhere and on every newspaper she was on the cover. I just thought that is pretty neat. She comes from a small town just like I do and I thought “wow, if she can do that I maybe I can follow my dreams and one day be able to follow her path.”
Like Neumann before her, Sörenstam is now a major role model for generations of golfers across the globe, but admitted that she was not always comfortable with the responsibility, saying it was a position that she has ‘grown into’.
“At the beginning it was kind of tough because I think a lot of people have high expectations from me. They were comparing me with Nancy Lopez and I thought that was totally, well obviously very difficult because Nancy is such a great lady and I didn’t think I could fill her shoes,” said Sörenstam.
The 35-year-old Swede would have been 17 years old when Neumann captured the US Women’s Open title in 1988. Since then, she has won 79 tournaments worldwide and earned over $18 million in prize money through the LPGA alone. Neumann, who is 39, has recorded 27 worldwide wins and earned $5,494,733 on the US circuit.
Despite the balance of earnings tipping in Sörenstam’s favour, the World no.1 admitted: “I admire Liselotte for a lot of things. She is obviously one of the first Swedish players to really break through in the U.S. She is a first class lady, so for me to be here and her as my partner, it is a great honour.”
Both Sörenstam and Neumann can enter Pre-Qualifying for the men’s 2006 Open Championship after the R&A changed its ruling at the close of last season as both players finished inside the top five in the Women’s British Open in 2005, fulfilling the entry criteria. But Sörenstam, who competed in the Bank of America Colonial Tournament on the PGA Tour in 2003, ruled out the possibility of making an appearance.
“I don’t think I’m going to try it. I mean I had my chance, not at the British Open, but to play with the men at the Colonial so I’ve tried it,” she said, adding: “I know what its like and I enjoyed it but I don’t want to go back.”
Neumann said she might consider the opportunity after learning about it in a golf magazine: “I think it might be fun, but I don’t know if my level of golf is high enough to really go and try it. We’ll see how it goes this year. It might be a fun thing to do just for something different but I haven’t made up my mind yet.”