August 12, 2008

Q&A with Annika Sorenstam

ANNIKA SORENSTAM has 72 wins and 10 majors on the LPGA Tour. She's engaged to Mike McGee and says she'll retire from competitive golf at the end of this year.

How often do you fly private?

Mostly domestic--nothing international.

Have you ever lost your clubs?

I have. I was playing in Canada, the du Maurier, many years ago, and my whole travel cover never showed up. I lost the whole thing. It was not just golf clubs, golf bag and golf shoes. It was dress shoes, running shoes, you name it--a bunch of stuff and they never found it.

Did you feel violated?

Yes. They told me they'd compensate me $300. I'm like, $300?--that's not even a driver. It was pathetic. I know it happens, but certain things you just can't replace.

I'm told when you fly private, your clubs get a good seat on the plane.

They do. I treat them well.

Do you keep them up top or do you put them in the belly of the plane?

I strap them into a seat [Laughs].

Any desire to learn how to fly a plane?

No. When I was growing up I wanted to be a pilot. I don't know how long that lasted. I don't really like flying. I've been up in the cockpit several times. I've landed a plane three times. But no. No desire to do it anymore.

Was it easy to land a plane?

Yes. I was sitting in the right-hand seat, pushed down the wheel. It's really cool. I'm such a control freak I don't mind sitting up there, but when I'm sitting in the back I have no idea what's going on--that's when I don't like to fly.

When you're going on a long vacation, do you have a packing strategy?

I have a strategy when it comes to golf clothing because Cutter and Buck scripts what I wear for tournaments. Then I throw in worker clothes, dinner clothes and casual clothes.

At the end of a trip do you feel like you always overpacked?

Most of the time there's always clean stuff in my bag coming home. If that's over-packing, I'm not sure, but most of the time I pack well.

Pick a movie for a long flight.

I like action. It gets my attention the most.

Do you have a favorite?

I like to watch new movies. I'm not a person who watches old movies. If I've seen it, I don't need to see it again.

What's your favorite song on your iPod right now?

I like John Mayer: "Say What You Want To Say."

Are you a reader on long flights? Magazines or books?

I'm a subscriber to several magazines. I get them throughout the weeks and the months. When it's time for long flights, I pick up the magazines I haven't read.

Which ones are at the top of the pile?

I like Shape. I really love Wine Spectator.

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Skiing or snowboarding?

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Nowadays it's only skiing. I have to focus on one sport.

Did you ever try snowboarding?

I tried it for five years. I enjoy it, but skiing is what I really love. I realized, if I'm only going to ski a few days a year then I'd rather just spend the time on one thing.

What's your favorite ski resort?

I'd say at Lake Tahoe, it's Northstar. That's where we go the most. For our honeymoon we're going to Whistler, so we'll see if I like it there.

What's your affinity with Lake Tahoe? I know you go there a lot.

It's got everything. During the summer you have the lake and the fresh air. Obviously in the winter you have the snow. If you're an outdoor person--it's the place to be.

No golf on your honeymoon if you're going to Whistler in the winter.

Even if it was the summer I still wouldn't play golf.

What's Annika's tips to Orlando for a group of golfers coming to town?

They should go to the Annika Academy at the Ginn Resort. How about that?

What about places to eat?

If you like Sushi--Amora is my favorite. I'm also a big fan of Capital Grille.

If someone is planning a golf trip to Sweden--when and where should they go? Is this a trip worth looking into?

Absolutely. I recommend June through September. We have a lot of courses. We have links courses, seaside and park. You name it. Stockholm is a cool city to visit. I recommend a week there and then rent a car. Within a six-hour drive you get everything.

Pinehurst, Pebble Beach or Bandon Dunes?

Bandon Dunes.

One golf course for the rest of your life. Which one would it be?

I like Pine Valley, but I don't want to live in New Jersey.

I know you're getting into course design and that you have a few projects in the works. Do you have a favorite course designer?

Donald Ross. I like old, traditional golf courses and I'm impressed with the courses that he has designed. During those times they didn't have the equipment that we have, or the computer systems we have. His golf courses stand through time, if you know what I mean.

Do you have a design philosophy? Something specific you're trying to do?

Yes, I'm trying to do something [Laughs].

Eighteen holes would be a good start, right?

Yes, 18 holes would be good. I try to design courses for every golfer, men and women, of different skill levels. Several tees are important. You want to be able to have bunkers come into play from regular tees and not necessarily only from the back tees. A majority of golfers play from the regular tees. When I grew up, golf was a family sport. There was mom, dad and juniors--my sister and I and my parents. I think golf courses should be designed for everybody. That's my philosophy. Challenging for the top players but then also friendly and enjoyable for beginners and recreational golfers.

In your bag, which club is your favorite club?

I've always loved the wedges. I have four. I love something within 100 yards. That's my strong suit.

If you could win one of the men's events, which one would it be?

I think the Masters is probably the biggest--that would be cool.

Would you look good in a green coat?

Yes! And I would get a matching skirt [Laughs].

So Tiger and Phil are tied for the lead coming into the 72nd hole of a major, which one are you pulling for?

Tiger.

You have a three-foot putt for your life. Do you call Tiger or do you putt it yourself?

I want to putt. Remember, I'm a control freak. I wouldn't delegate it to anybody.

Who's in your perfect foursome?

I've never met Madonna. She doesn't play golf, but how about her caddying for me? That would be nice. Brad Pitt. I wouldn't mind it if he joins the party. I'd want people who I admire, who are hard working. Agassi is someone I'd like to play golf with. I've met him a few times. He's a hard working guy, a successful guy. I like him a lot. It would be fun to have a comedian in there, too--to make it fun.

You were nationally ranked tennis player growing up. What would you say if I told you Roger Federer has never been on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

I would say that you're kidding me.

That's true.

Wow. It's about time!

You've had 72 wins, 10 majors, you were a nationally ranked tennis player, you played soccer and you ski. Who's the greatest athlete of all-time?

I have to think for a minute. That's tough. I think Lance Armstrong to me is impressive. He would rank up there.

Right now, who's the greatest female golfer of all-time?

[Laughs] Can I throw my name in there?

I think you can. You have pretty good credentials.

It would be a toss up. Kathy Whitworth with 88 wins, Mickey Wright with 82, Nancy (Lopez)--there's a lot of players up there. It's tough for me to pick one.

How did Mike (McGee) propose?

It was a regular Saturday morning. It came as a total surprise. We were at home, having a great morning. We were hanging out. I was on my couch having a cup of tea watching some TV. I was as relaxed as I could possibly be. It was a perfect moment because I wasn't running around. I wasn't doing anything. It was sweet.

In 10 years, you're posing for a family portrait--how many kids are in the picture?

Two. And a lab or a golden retriever.