Sörenstam to retire at end of season

Sörenstam to retire at end of season
Annika Sörenstam, who won the 72nd title of her LPGA career on Sunday, will retire at the conclusion of the 2008 season, the 37-year-old Swedish superstar announced on Tuesday.

Sörenstam has won three tournaments this season after going without a title in an injury-plagued 2007 campaign. She has won an LPGA career-record $22 million with her victory on Sunday at the Michelob Ultra Open.

“I have given it my all and it has been fun,” Sörenstam said. “I came back from an injury last year. I am healthy. I feel good. I have started strong this season and I will be leaving the game on my own terms.”

The former world number one announced her decision at the site of this week’s LPGA Sybase Classic in Clifton, New Jersey, just hours after she was among several players who rang the opening bell on Tuesday at the New York Stock Exchange.

Sörenstam likened her situation to that of American football star Brett Favre, who retired from the National Football League earlier this year.

“I was watching Brett Favre when he announced his retirement. He said he loved the competition. He was just tired of the daily grind – and I feel the same way,” Sörenstam said.

“While I will be stepping away, I will be very engaged in the game of golf, but in a different way.”

Sörenstam is second on the money list and in the world rankings to Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa, who took over the world number one spot 13 months ago. Sörenstam will try to reclaim the top spot before walking away.

“This is a difficult decision to make because I love this game so much,” Sörenstam said.

Sörenstam will say goodbye in Dubai. Her farewell tournament will be the Ladies European Tour’s Dubai Ladies Masters, which begins on December 10th.

“There’s still plenty of golf to be played,” she said. “I have another seven months left, and my goal is to win tournaments. I still have the energy and excitement to finish the year on a strong note.”

Sörenstam, who joined the LPGA in 1994, will marry Mike McGee in January and wants to spend more time with her business dealings such as a golf academy and golf course architecture firm.

“I made this decision because I have a number of other priorities in my life, including starting a family, that I want to be as dedicated to as I have been to playing golf,” she said. “I have a lot of dreams.”

Sörenstam played only 13 events last year because of a disc injury in her neck, but the time away gave her a new appreciation for the sport and her success in it.

“The injuries made me appreciate what I achieved and made me appreciate the game and being out here,” Sörenstam said. “I wanted to come back because I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want an injury to take me away from this game.

“Now I feel at peace. It’s the right thing to do. Now I’m healthy and that’s the way I want it to be.”

On Sunday, Sörenstam won for the 27th time in the past 30 events which she has led entering the final round, doing so with three of her lowest four rounds of the past two years.

Eight-time LPGA Player of the Year and eight-time LPGA season money leader Sörenstam has won 10 major titles – three US Women’s Opens, three LPGA Championships, three Nabisco Championships and a Women’s British Open.

No LPGA player has won more of the current women’s golf majors and only Juli Inkster has equaled her in majors in the modern era.

Sörenstam, named to the World Golf Hall of Fame and LPGA Hall of Fame in 2003, stands third on the all-time LPGA win list behind record-holder Kathy Whitworth’s 88 titles and Mickey Wright’s 82.