Ten years ago newcomer Annika Sorenstam won her first professional tournament. Sixty-five LPGA victories since then the Swede is in hot pursuit of the elusive 54!
After reading this month's issue of Callaway Golf Magazine, I just couldn't believe that Annika Sorenstam really thinks she can score the elusive 54 or as Annika calls it, "Vision 54… the pursuit of the perfect 18-hole round." Few golfers have come close. Phil Mickelson, in a 2004 season-ending stunner gave the fans something to cheer about with his 59. A 60 followed early in 2005.
But, as Sorenstam fans have learned, nothing is impossible if Annika thinks she can do it!
Paula Story's recent interview with Sorenstam at the Reunion Resort and Club in Orlando let me into the mindset of a champion and what it takes to follow dreams and achieve goals. She is a hero of mine because of all that she has helped to make the LPGA tour something viewers will be excited to watch.
Her vision to have the perfect round of golf, namely scoring a 54, may only be a dream at this time but to Annika it is a clear vision of something she has yet to accomplish. Can it be done? Annika has come close with a remarkable 59, something that even Tiger Woods hasn't done, but it won't be easy. But Annika's dreams have a way of materializing. Perhaps it's because of her strong focus on setting goals and then putting together a plan on how to best achieve them.
As Annika states, and I agree with, "hard work, organization and determination" are important to factors in focusing on a dream. Many players have a lot of those qualities but you have to put them all together." How many times have you seen the greatest golfers in the world fall short of winning a tournament because they aren't as determined to win as they should be?
I've watched PGA Tour golfers fall apart on Sunday because they just didn't feel that they could finish strong. Look at how many times Mickelson came in second on Sunday when leading or in a position to win. His mindset didn't allow him to block out all distractions and as soon as he bogeyed he felt down. Once down he wasn't determined enough to pick himself up.
That's what's so great about having the right caddy. They are there not only to give you the right clubs and discuss the greens but are also there for support, to give the golfer determination to finish what he/she set out to do.
Annika also believes that it's important to "look long term". The shortest route is not always the best to take. Often when you change strategy or something in your swing it takes time to work it into your routine. As Sorenstam continued, "I am very persistent. If I know that what I'm doing is right, I'll stick with it. It might not work the first time, but I know it will the second, third or fourth time."
Persistence pays off. Annika Sorenstam is now the dominating force on tour. Whenever she enters a tournament be sure that she will either appear in the winner's circle or on a top position on the leaderboard. When she is in the field other golfers must feel the pressure too! Just watch as some early-round leaders topple as Annika climbs the scoreboard.
Setting goals also helps the number-one women's golfer stay on top of the Official ADT Money List. Her first goal was a simple and short-term one. Win just one tournament on the LPGA Tour. Her first win was not only exciting but special as well. Annika grabbed the crystal for the 50th U.S. Women's Open, a major!
Sorenstam continues to set goals. Her attempts at a "Soren-slam" or winning all four majors in one year, has not materialize yet but expect that when Annika sets her mind to something it just may happen!
Another important hurdle for women in which Annika took the plunge was her first experience on the PGA Tour at the Colonial. "My memories of the opening shot and that whole experience are ones that I'll never forget."
Public support was something that Annika was not only missing but longing for. At first there was the controversy regarding her entry into the Colonial. "Early in the week I heard guys saying, 'Why is she here, what is she doing?'
As soon as she realized that not only women, but the PGA golfers, were rooting for her success, that's when Annika knew she was heading down the right path. "It was neat that, in the end, the guys didn't feel threatened by me. Of course, that was never the point. I didn't go there to threaten anybody. I was there for myself and I think they realized that." It's great to see Sorenstam continually breaking down barriers.
Is another long-term goal to beat number-one ranked PGA Tour golfer Tiger Woods? Both practice together when in Florida and each try to take away a new shot or learn something that will make them stronger. They both also have a real passion for the game.
"He's (Tiger) a lot stronger and he has a lot more shots around the greens. I think what he learns from me is distance control and consistency. I can repeat my swing over and over again and I think that's something he would like to be able to do."
What's in store for Annika? There is one LPGA match left to play this year. The season-ending ADT Championship plays out right after the Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions this week on the Golf Channel. I expect Annika will want to finish strong. Although her goal this year of tying her eleven victories in a single season has not been met, Annika always has a chance next year. Setting goals and keeping her strong determination will give Sorenstam the edge to fulfill her dreams.
Photo Credit: © AP.