Thursday, May 23, 2013


Looking back, it is difficult for me to believe that it has been nearly seven years since I interviewed ANNIKA. I have had other meetings with the global golf star since then, most notably as a featured putting station instructor during an ANNIKA clinic at Fiddler's Elbow in 2010. 

In honor of the GO ANNIKA documentary honoring her historic play in the PGA event at Colonial, I decided to repost this article. The PGA pros are playing at Colonial this week.

I miss seeing ANNIKA's swing on television. Her tempo and rhythm were awesome and inspiring to watch. I am a visual learner and appreciated being able to (at the time) tape the LPGA and then watch all the ANNIKA segments---more often than not, she would be in contention in the tournament. 

In 2003, when she made history at Colonial, I was on the couch watching with my husband. We would have watched the whole thing no matter what, but I had begun to experience weird, flu-like symptoms and fatigue which would often relegate me to the couch (and would ultimately take me on a medical adventure.)

I tried to continue with my budding amateur golf career but it was difficult.  Missing tee times due to a randomly appearing illness is not looked upon favorably.

Still I was inspired to remain committed to my promise to take golf to my home country Lithuania (I have dual American & Lithuanian citizenship) in July, 2004. I participated in and won the Lithuanian Open. I also gave a golf clinic to over 300 people with television and radio coverage. I was expecting 30 people!! 

I also followed through on participating in the World Amateur Team Championship as a member of the Lithuanian team. While we did raise the Lithuanian flag and Lithuania is part of the official record, I did not finish (DNF) as I was physically unable to compete. 

I gave it my all the first two rounds but I could barely walk--I felt a tremendous weight on my shoulders to complete the task--I just could not do it. 

I continue to battle this mystery disease. Currently, I am with a physician who specializes in bartonella co-infections. The protocol is extremely challenging but my husband and I remain hopeful. 

I continue to electronically coach those junior golfers who reach  out to me. I plan on making a comeback, it is just going to take more time.

In the meantime, checkout Annika's (Ms. 59) stats from Ms. 59  posted that score in the 2001 Standard Register Ping, the only sub-60 round in LPGA history. But it was her 72 career LPGA victories and 10 major titles that really set her apart. A workout fiend, Sorenstam increased her strength and driving distance enough to make another sort of history, teeing it up against the men in the PGA Tour's Colonial in 2003. She missed the cut but set a new standard for women's golf.

Read more:

She and I have much in common in terms of our passion for golf, cooking, community support and encouraging others to be the best that they can be. When I look at the photograph above, I am reminded that I have a Swedish sister along with my six Lithuanian ones. Notice the Swedish blue in my beret?????

Hunterdon Central High School girls’ golf coach Lydia Siipola had the opportunity to sit down with golf superstar Annika Sorenstam on Saturday afternoon at the Neshanic Valley Golf Course. The LPGA’s all-time leading money winner then conducted a clinic before 500 enthusiastic Hunterdon and Somerset County golf fans.

By Lydia Siipola

It really was a no-brainer.
Annika Sorenstam putting on a golf clinic just 10 miles from Flemington. I had to be there and I had to tell everyone I know about the opportunity.
Saturday arrived and so did the winner of 60 LPGA tournaments, representing Callaway Golf and helping the Somerset County park system celebrate its 50th anniversary. The day included two golf tournaments, as well as contests involving long drive, chipping, putting, and a hole-in-one opportunity. Later in the afternoon, Sorenstam put on a ball-striking clinic and was quite a crowd pleaser.
Before the clinic, however, the current US Women’s Open champion held a small press conference in the Callaway Performance Center where she offered her thoughts on golf – Annika style.
“I love that younger people are playing golf,” said Sorenstam. “It really doesn’t matter when you start, but it has to be fun. You don’t what to force anything.
“I didn’t begin playing golf until I was 12, which is considered late by today’s standards. I had been involved in tennis before that and my idol was Bjorn Borg.”
Known for her ability to focus, Sorenstam said, “ It really is about taking one shot at a time. You can walk down the fairways talking but when it is your turn, you must focus completely for 30 to 40 seconds.”
While battling Lorena Ochoa for the number one ranking this year, Sorenstam is also in the process of opening a golf academy in Florida. “Annika’s Academy” will involve golf and fitness instruction.
While similar to other golf academies, Sorenstam’s will differ in that the people who teach Annika will also be there to teach those who attend her academy. Her personal fitness trainer Kai Fusser and her swing coach Henri Reis will be instructors at the academy, which will be part of the Reunion Golf Resort in Orlando.
Sorenstam, known for her commitment to training and practice, plans on see her “swing thought” gurus Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott in Phoenix soon. They are best known for their GOLF54 clinics as well as publishing, “Every Shot Must Have A Purpose.”
Sorenstam also said that she is coming out with a fitness DVD slated for release this spring.
After signing autographs for hundreds of fans, Sorenstam began her clinic by demonstrating her range routine, stating that everything she does is geared to “tempo.”
She showed remarkable consistency and explained her techniques on working the ball on high, low, left-to-right and right-to-left shots.
But above all, she said, “When you are on the range, you must always have a target. Absolutely.”
Of course, her ultimate target is to remain the world’s number one woman golfer.
And to help spread the sport around the world.
That’s just what she did for the fans on Saturday afternoon. 

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