Annika goes for three-peat in Chicago

By Dave Berner, Senior Contributor

Annika Sorenstam

AURORA, Ill. - Annika Sorenstam has thought about quitting; packing up the golf clubs, stuffing them in the garage, and starting a family. She's also considered a cooking career. Yeah, cooking. She's apparently pretty good at it and even worked as an apprentice chef during the off-season, the winter months, a couple years ago at Lake Nona Country Club in Orlando, Fla.

"It's something that's crossed my mind," says Sorenstam who is preparing to return to Stonebridge Country Club in Aurora, Illinois in early June to try to win her third Kellogg-Keebler Classic in a row.

Sorenstam has said openly if she won the Grand Slam this year she would seriously consider hanging up the spikes. But when she didn't win the LPGA Tour's first major this season, that goal, at least for this year, had to wait.

"As soon as it didn't happen, it didn't stay in my mind very long. I wouldn't take it as if I was going to retire next year."

So, yes, at age 33 she's considering the day when she stops playing competitive golf.

"I'm at a point in my career where I feel very satisfied with what I have achieved. I still love what I do. I'm still motivated," said Sorenstam. "But I do have other interests."

Sound like she's getting soft? Hardly. This season she can't win the traditional Grand Slam (winning all the Tour's majors in one season), but she says there's no reason not to shoot for her version of what's been called the "Tiger Slam" - Woods' run of four straight majors in two consecutive seasons, 2000 and 2001. And it's clear she's thinking about focusing her energies on the majors. She has limited her schedule this year partially to put more of her emphasis on the LPGA's major tournaments.

"I've always been about quality, not quantity," said Sorenstam.

Annika Sorenstam The only problem with this is she might have a hard time winning the money title playing 8-10 fewer tournaments than other players. Right now Sorenstam is second on the money list to Grace Park.

Last year at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic at Stonebridge Country Club Annika had just finished her historic rounds at the PGA Tour's Colonial. The crowds and the media were all around her and the frenzy of the Colonial event stayed with her all season. This season, things are different.

"It was the only thing I thought about and the only thing people talked about," said Sorenstam. "I'm kind of glad it has slowed down a little bit."

This June at Stonebridge all eyes will be watching to see if Sorenstam can take home a third straight trophy. The possibility is very real. Annika likes the golf course - she shot a 62 in one of the three rounds at Stonebridge last year. She likes Chicago; she likes the fans, and handles the media with grace. She's comfortable coming to the Kellogg-Keebler. Heck, she's even said she thinks Tony the Tiger and the Keebler Elves are a kick.

Annika Sorenstam Right now any tournament on the LPGA that secures a commitment from Annika Sorenstam is out-of-their-minds thrilled. She's still the biggest draw, the biggest star on the LPGA Tour. And when tournament directors hear her talk, even the slightest little mention, about retiring they begin sweating and shaking in their soft spikes. There are plenty of strong players on the Tour - Grace Park, Se Ri Pak, Cristie Kerr, Janice Moodie, Laura Diaz, Laura Davies, Aree Song - but Annika is still queen. No one wants the queen to give up her thrown, not yet.

"I wouldn't mind walking away if things go right," said Sorenstam. "The last thing I want is for people to see me play and say, 'I remember her when she could hit a green and make a putt.' I want people to remember me when I was playing my best."

Personal

Birthdate: October 9, 1970
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Residence: Incline Village, Nevada
Height: 5'6 Turned professional: 1993

What's in the Bag?

Driver - 8.5 Callaway ERC Fusion
Fairway Woods - 4, 7 - Big Bertha, Steelhead III
Irons: 4-9 Callaway Steelhead lll
Wedges: Forged and Steelhead Callaway
Putter: WH 2-Ball Blade
Ball: Callaway HX Tour

Kellogg-Keebler Classic

Dates: June 4 - 6
Location: Stonebridge Country Club - Aurora, Illinois, 35 miles west of Chicago
Purse: $1,200,000
Defending Champion: Annika Sorenstam
Tickets: 888-609-LPGA
TV Coverage: ESPN Friday, Saturday. ESPN2 Sunday.
Tournament Web site: www.chicagolpga.com

Dave BernerDave Berner, Senior Contributor

Dave Berner is a long-time journalist for CBS radio in Chicago and has freelanced for CNN, National Public Radio, and ABC news. He created and produced the popular radio feature "The Golf Minute" for CBS-owned radio station WMAQ in Chicago along with writing a regular column for Golf Chicago Magazine. He is also author of "Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons" and "Accidental Lessons: A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed." Follow Berner on Twitter @DavidWBerner


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