Sorenstam busy as ever

LPGA icon sets new goals as mom, businesswoman

February 24, 2011|By Jeff Shain

REUNION, Fla. — Annika Sorenstam still doesn't use the R-word.

"Stepped away" remains how the Hall of Famer describes her decision to leave behind her LPGA playing days two years ago. Sometimes she will change and call it "stepping over" to motherhood and the business world.

But retired? Hey, that would imply the 40-year-old icon was slowing down. She's far too busy for that.

"A lot of these girls, when they're 16 they just care about calories," Sorenstam said, a staunch advocate for healthy living. "They study labels, but they don't necessarily eat the right things because they're so conscious about how they look."

Sorenstam's vision: A children's wellness center to help kids fight obesity and other dietary problems, either medically or through education.

She knows how she wants to fund the project too — bringing an LPGA stop to Central Florida that would bear the Annika name.

That would be in addition to the junior tournament last weekend, named the American Junior Golf Association's top event in just its second year largely because of Sorenstam's hands-on approach. She also sponsors junior events in Sweden and China.

Sorenstam recently partnered with The First Tee to bring her "9 Healthy Habits" to the program's curriculum. She's a Thursday regular on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" chatfest and recently began filming segments for a golf/cooking show that's in development.

Then there's the golf academy, the course design firm, the clothing line, the wine selection and the perfume brand.

"Now the fruit is coming off the tree," she said of her ripening business ventures.

Oh, and did we mention Sorenstam is 24 weeks pregnant? Her second child, a boy, is set to greet husband Mike McGee and daughter Ava in mid-June.

"He's very active, kicking already," Sorenstam said. "Ava was a little calmer; just at the end I felt her. He's just boing, boing, boing, boing."

So much for those musings after Sorenstam's departure that she wouldn't stay away more than a couple of years. She still plays golf on occasion, generally as part of an Annika Academy function.

Then again, she never really left the game.

"I know there are a lot of different parts," she said of her business portfolio, "but if you think about them, they kind of connect in one way or another."

Mostly to golf. But as she has learned, it's not about hitting 7-irons anymore.

"You find partnerships in philanthropy," she said. "Some people already have done (something similar). You find those people, because we all have the same vision or the same cause."

jshain@tribune.com

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