Annika Sörenstam paid her golf dues, now she’s paying it forward
Madeira, Ohio – “It was cold and rainy one day, . . . and I was hitting balls on the driving range, but I didn’t want to be there. So I called my dad,” Annika Sörenstam reminded the crowd . “I said, ‘Can you pick me up?’ and he did. As we were driving we saw a few other kids hitting balls and he looked at me and said, ‘You know Annika, there’s no shortcut to success. I still remember it to this day.”
As one of the greatest, if not the The greatest golfer in LPGA history, Sörenstam has a great reputation, and for good reason. She blazed a trail in the sport, becoming the first woman to play in a PGA tournament since Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1945. She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame shortly after that achievement, in 2003, and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. in 2021, 13 years after his retirement from competition.
So what made her come to Cincinnati this week?
Well, his desire to pay it forward.
The first Kroger Queen City Championship presented by Procter & Gamble is not limited to golf. It’s about empowering women to do what they love, what they’re passionate about, fostering relationships, and bringing women’s sports to a bustling hub like Cincinnati.
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One of the highlights of Wednesday’s Pro-Am action was Kroger and Always teaming up to provide four scholarships to young local women of color. These four women were Caitlyn Morrow, University of Cincinnati; Jessica Williams, University of Dayton; Honesty Lyon, Wilberforce University; and Bryanna Hall, University of Northern Kentucky.
There was a fifth recipient, Yugandhara Nalawade of the University of Miami, who was not present at Wednesday’s awards ceremony.
The exchanges were part of Kroger’s new platform, Game Changers.
Kate Meyer, a representative for Kroger, said the tournament itself is just one key pillar in the foundation of the platform. The other two pillars come from the Women’s Leadership Program, which was held on Tuesday, and the Fellowship Program.
“This is about supporting you women here at the start of your leadership careers, working and pursuing degrees in what will be the game changers of tomorrow,” Meyer said.
Sörenstam congratulated the winners in attendance with a short putting clinic, where she taught them the basics to launch them into their golf career – from tips and tricks on putting stance, to how to grip your club and even how to rotate your body for optimal performance. (shoulders, not wrists!).
She said she was happy to be a part of this week’s tournament behind the scenes as she always tries to find ways to help the younger generation of female golfers. She knows her journey is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean she can’t share the tools she’s picked up along the way to make their job easier.
“It’s a big role, but I like to approach it in the sense that I’ve had mentors in my life, people I’ve looked up to and been grateful for, so that’s a way of pay it forward and say thank you,” Sörenstam said. “Inspiring others, whether it’s through golf, meeting other women, or talking about their dream, just inspiring them to do something they love is really important. for me. Whether with one person, 10 or 100, . . . (it’s important) to be out there, doing what you say and what you believe in.”