BETHAN CUTLER: Welcome back to the media centre for the last time. It’s been really great to have you here with us playing in our tournament and we are quite sad to see you go. How are you feeling right now?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, thank you. I mean, it’s been great to be here this week, as well. It’s my third trip to Dubai and I have loved it every time. It’s just an amazing city and I think it’s a first class tournament.
This year, I was able to bring my family to share, not just Dubai with them, but share this special week. Like I said, this is most likely my last press conference, so I guess, you know, thinking about that is a little weird.
You know, life goes on, and I have said it before. I feel very content and very happy about my decision to move on.
BETHAN CUTLER: How emotional were you walking up the 18th hole in the end?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You know, I felt at peace. I really felt very content. I walked up there to hit my third shot, and I felt the breeze coming in, and it was just a really comfortable feeling. I saw some players standing behind the 18th green; that gave me a tear. I saw my parents and my family and that give me a tear.
You know, I know the time is right, and therefore, I feel very happy at the same time as obviously, if you think about 15 years and all of the things I’ve achieved, it’s sad. But new chapters you close the door and you open another one. I’m glad I have a chance to do that.
Q. So sad to see you go from professional tournaments, but good luck to you to all that you are going to do in the future.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Thank you.
Q. I just wanted to ask you, your thoughts when you went on the first tee, and your thoughts when you were making that last putt of yours.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, it was nice if we go backwards, it was nice to see the putt go in and finish in style with a birdie.
You know, I was a little nervous this morning. I woke up, had a little bit of a stomach ache, and I came here to the course a little earlier than normal and had some time to stretch and really reflect on the upcoming day.
You know, felt a little bit empty at times, but once I hit the first shot, then it’s automatic. Now I’m just playing golf again and focusing on what I have to do. It wasn’t until the end again that I start thinking about, this is it. I had a little countdown with Terry and we were reminiscing here and there.
So it made it a little harder to focus, but again that’s what memories are for. We have been so lucky to have all of these experiences together. We laughed about it. It’s very, like I said, very special, and then both of us felt, this is the right thing. So we are both very content.
Q. How long have you been working with Terry?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Nine years.
Q. And can you just talk about that partnership?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, first of all, he’s a great guy and he’s a great caddie. He’s been a huge part of my success. Some of the things that we have experienced together, all of it is not happiness and victories. There’s been a few tough times and a few losses, as well. But together we have bounced back and we have always had the same thing in common. We have always worked very hard. We have always, together, been driven and it’s just been a great partnership.
You know, we have built a friendship that I think is going to last for many, many years.
Q. Which player will snatch him from you? Do you know where he’s going?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: He’s actually taking three months off. So I am playing in a little thing in early February, and I asked him to caddie for me. He said he will make himself available. So he’s not ready to go yet.
Q. Does the experience of the last few days make you think even once more about changing your mind and reconsidering?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: No. I mean, on the contrary, and that’s what I mean by walking down the 18th; I felt so much at peace. I know the time is right.
I have had 15 wonderful years. I have achieved more than I ever thought I could. You know, I cannot ask for anymore. I have given it all from start to finish. I just don’t have it anymore in me, and there’s no need for me to be out here and continue to reminisce, continue to push something that’s not there.
On the contrary, I would like to leave it where I feel really good about it. I’ve always said that to my friends and my family; that is last thing I want to do is be out playing and have a fan, say, hey, I remember when she could play. That’s just not me. I give it all, and if I can’t give it all, I’ll do something else and the time is here.
Q. So you’ve left the door slightly ajar if you should ever want to return?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, that’s the beauty. I have the option to do that, and maybe that’s why I feel even more don’t. Never say never. But on the other hand, I feel great right now. This is what I’ve been waiting for.
Q. Could you tell us more about the event in February?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: It’s called Annika Celebration, and it’s really an event that IMG is putting together to help me raise some money for my foundation to help me, a little bit more than kick start it; but it’s their way of celebrating my career and what I’ve achieved.
It’s a three day event and we have a Pro Am part and then we have a what would you call, like an exhibition match with Lorena, Paula Creamer and I think Natalie Gulbis and myself. It will take place at Reunion in Orlando, just where my academy is. Again, it’s something that IMG is putting together, all of my sponsors are involved. We are tying it in with a Super Bowl party, so a little bit more on the lighter side than it has been in the past.
Q. Just wanted to ask you about when you started, you developed your game under Pia Nilsson and there was this thing about Vision 54, I think you came closest to it by shooting a 59. Did you manage to speak to her in the last few days, and I believe she is going to work with you, Pia Nilsson; and do you think 54 is possible?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I still think it’s possible. I think it’s a great vision and something we should all strive for. You know, I have not spoken to Pia the last few days. It’s just been a very busy week.
You know, I know I’ll get a chance to catch up with her. But there are no plans of working together by any means, but our friendship will continue. You never know, we might do something down the road but nothing is planned.
Q. Just your opinion of the strength of the game in Europe at the moment, the ladies game, and the strength in relation to the world?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, I think this week is a good sign of what’s to come. There are some great players out here, some great talent, and you know, I know times are tough economically and there are some tournaments that are going to go away, but I think we have a great product. Solheim Cup is coming up next year, I think it’s going to be very exciting.
I feel very good about women’s golf in general. It’s on the rise and it will continue to grow. You see it more from a global perspective. Here we are the Ladies European Tour in Dubai, and you look at the LPGA, you have a lot of Asian players playing every week. It’s a global game, and the growth is there. So I think stepping away at this time is very appropriate and I’m excited for them.
Q. Is there anyone that you can see as coming through as a major dominant force? Anyone from the field today perhaps?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: The field here, it’s tough to single anybody out. There’s a lot of talent out here. I know several of the players have been to the LPGA qualifying to take it to the next step up there. But then you also have many players who are loyal to this tour and that supports it every week, and that’s what’s needed. Talent is there, no doubt about it.