Publish date:
Updated on

Golfer Annika Sörenstam becomes one of the first women to play PGA tour

On May 22, 2003, golfer Annika Sorenstam becomes the first woman to play in a PGA tour event since Babe Didrikson 58 years earlier, after receiving a sponsor’s exemption to compete in the Bank of America Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas.

Annika Sorenstam was born October 9, 1970, in Bro, Sweden, outside of Stockholm. She was a ranked junior tennis player before learning to golf at age 12. At 16, Sorenstam quit tennis, citing burnout, and switched her focus to golf. She improved her game by caddying for professionals in Sweden and eventually began to earn spots in pro events.

In 1990, Sorenstam moved to the United States to play for the University of Arizona, after the team’s coach spotted her at a tournament in Tokyo. She became the first non-American to win an individual NCAA national championship in 1991. After sharing NCAA Player of the Year honors in 1992, Sorenstam turned pro. Though she failed to win a title in her first year on the tour, she competed well enough to be named LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1994. She won her first LPGA title at the 1995 U.S. Women’s Open, which she won again in 1996.

Sorenstam was the LPGA money leader in 1995, 1997 and 1998, but her short game had holes, and up until 1999 missed putts often cost her tournaments. Karrie Webb replaced her as the money leader in 1999 and 2000, but Sorenstam focused on improving her game and in 2001 she roared back with a vengeance, setting a record for the lowest round in LPGA history at the Standard Register Ping tournament in Phoenix with a 59. That year, she won eight tournaments, effectively ending Karrie Webb’s challenge to her dominance on tour. Sorenstam led the LPGA in money earned every year from 2001 to 2005. In 2002, she joined Mickey Wright as the only women players ever to win 11 titles in a season.

At the 2003 Colonial in Fort Worth, Sorenstam measured herself against the best players on the men’s side for the first time. With the exception of Vijay Singh, who stirred controversy saying Sorenstam had “no business” on the course, she was a popular presence with players and fans alike. Her galleries were by far the biggest in the tournament, numbering 50,000 people at times. On her first day, Sorenstam shot a 71, just one over par, putting herself in contention to make the cut and play for the championship. On the second day, she shot a four-over 74, leaving her five-over for the first two days, and missing the cut by four shots. She left the course to a standing ovation.

For her career, Sorenstam has won $20 million in purses, $8 million more than her closest competitor, Karrie Webb. Coming into the 2007 season she had won 10 majors and 69 LPGA titles, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest female athletes of her generation.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


The War of the Roses begins

In the opening battle of England’s War of the Roses, the Yorkists defeat King Henry VI’s Lancastrian forces at St. Albans, 20 miles northwest of London. Many Lancastrian nobles perished, including Edmund Beaufort, the duke of Somerset, and the king was forced to submit to the more

Great Emigration departs for Oregon

A massive wagon train, made up of 1,000 settlers and 1,000 head of cattle, sets off down the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri. Known as the “Great Emigration,” the expedition came two years after the first modest party of settlers made the long, overland journey to more

Negotiators differ on diplomatic exchange

Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, at the 18th plenary session of the Paris peace talks, says he finds common ground for discussion in the proposals of President Richard Nixon and the National Liberation Front. In reply, Nguyen Thanh Le, spokesman for the North Vietnamese, said the more

First Lady Martha Washington dies

President George Washington’s devoted widow and the nation’s first first lady, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, dies at her Mt. Vernon home on this day in 1802. She was 70 years old. Like her husband, Martha Washington was born in the American colonies as a British subject more

Chandra Levy’s remains found

The remains of former Federal Bureau of Prisons intern Chandra Levy are found on this day in 2002, over a year after the 24-year-old was last seen at a health club. The bone remains, discovered by a man walking through Washington D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, were identified through more