September 3, 2009

Welcome Addition

Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam has immediately taken to life as a mother -- surprises and all

Young Ava McGee has already had an impressive list of visitors.

Young Ava McGee has already had an impressive list of visitors.

Even someone as thoroughly prepared as Annika Sorenstam can be thrown a curveball by childbirth. Eighteen hours after her water broke, and after two hours of pushing -- all to no avail -- Sorenstam had to alter her game plan. "She was lodged sideways in the canal, so I had a C-section," Sorenstam told Golf Digest.com. "The staff at Winnie Palmer [hospital in Orlando] was amazing."

At 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 1, Ava Madelyn McGee greeted the world at 6 pounds, 10 ounces and 19 inches long. "Ava, the daughter of the only woman to shot a 59 in an LPGA event, has the same birthday as Al Geiberger, the first man to shoot 59 in a PGA Tour tournament," said proud papa Mike McGee, perhaps only a little tongue-in-cheek. "There's an omen there." Geiberger was born Sept. 1937.

"It was surreal," Sorenstam said about her reaction the first time she held Ava in her arms. "The fact that I carried her around for nine months, then she was nearly three weeks early. I know it is the most natural thing, but I felt a peace that I didn't know existed." The adjustment now is getting used to only four or five hours sleep a night. "And even that comes in increments," says Sorenstam. "Luckily, Ava isn't much of a crier."

The child was the first for Sorenstam, who turns 39 next month. "[It wasn't] necessarily more difficult [than I expected,] she says. "I [just] didn't know what to expect. I read everything I could find, but had nothing to actually compare it to. I was never in terrible pain and feel pretty good now."

Sorenstam, who stepped away from competitive golf at the end of last season after winning 72 LPGA titles and 10 major championships, remained active right up to the last month of her pregnancy. In addition to her company, ANNIKA, which is involved in clothing, wine, a fragrance, course design and the Annika Golf Academy, she traveled to Switzerland at six months pregnant to help make golf's bid to get into the 2016 Olympic Games.

Her last appearance before retreating to her Orlando home was speaking to competitors in the USGA boys and girls junior championship played in late July at Donald Trump's course in Bedminster, N.J. Sorenstam also toured the exhibit celebrating her career in the USGA Museum at Far Hills, N.J.

There is definitely golf in Ava's bloodlines. Besides Mama Annika, Papa Mike is the son of four-time PGA Tour player and Ryder Cup team member Jerry McGee. But some apples fall farther from the tree than others. Mike McGee played more football and basketball than golf growing up and is what can best be described a an enthusiastic golfer.

So will Ava have her Mom's glorious tempo in her swing, or Dad's? "Hopefully, she has mine. I'd like her to save the jumping for the basketball court." And, if golf gets the Olympic nod at the Oct. 9 International Olympic Committee vote, perhaps then nearly seven-year-old Ava can see her 45-year-old Mom compete in the Olympic Games.