Swedish golfing great Annika Sorenstam said on Wednesday she was surprised by the recent invitation for her to join the renowned Augusta National Golf Club and called it one of the happiest days of her life.
Sorenstam, a 10-times major champion who has won 90 titles worldwide, is the first LPGA professional to become a member at the exclusive Augusta, Georgia-based golf club that has been home of the Masters since 1934.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore became the first women to don Augusta National’s renowned green jackets in 2012 when the club, after years of criticism over it’s male-only status, admitted its first female members.
“I mean what can I say? I’m extremely honoured,” Sorenstam told reporters ahead of her namesake event on the LPGA Tour taking place next week in Belleair, Florida.
“It was a surprise, I must say that. And I was so excited, you know, one of the most happiest days of my golf life.”
Sorenstam was speaking on a teleconference with tennis great Billie Jean King and motor racing pioneer Lyn St. James to promote Parity Week by Gainbridge, a celebration of the three sporting greats centred around events taking place next week.
The other two events that will make up Parity Week by Gainbridge are the Billie Jean King Cup Finals and the Women in Motorsports North America summit.
The 53-year-old Sorenstam, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003, may now be a member of one of the most powerful clubs in the world of golf but she said it was too soon to say what influence she would have.
“It’s super new so I am a total rookie and I’m am just learning the ropes,” said Sorenstam.
“I am not really sure where this will lead but I am thrilled and excited about the opportunity not just to play the course but just to get to know the members.”
King made no secret about what impact she hopes Sorenstam can have at Augusta National, which in 2019 began hosting the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“I know they have the amateur girls but I want to see a [women’s] pro tournament and so anyway I hope that happens and I think you will make a big difference,” King said to Sorenstam.
“You stand for so much and people listen to you and appreciate you.”