BELLEAIR, Florida – Nelly Korda first met Annika Sorenstam at the LPGA legend’s namesake AJGA event. Like many in this week’s LPGA field, Korda’s first recollection of Sorenstam is her putting on a junior clinic. Today’s players can quite literally play in events around the world that bear Sorenstam’s name. The college player of the year wins the Annika Award; the player who fares the best at the LPGA majors each year wins the Rolex Annika Major Award.
It’s only fitting then, that one of the premiere stops on the LPGA schedule now bears her name, too. The Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican, which started in 2020 but was rebranded this year, boasts one of the biggest purses on the LPGA schedule outside the majors at $3.25 million and a stacked field.
“I think it’s important to have history involved in the current game,” said former No. 1 Stacy Lewis. “I think it’s important for these girls to know the players that have come before them.”
While other LPGA greats have had their names on events throughout the history of the tour – the Betsy King Classic, the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, the Babe Zaharias Open, to name a few – Sorenstam’s is the only current event that carries a player’s name.
“I love to see these young girls living their dream,” said Sorenstam. “I’ve seen some from 16 years back, whether it’s Nelly Korda, Alison Lee, Leona Maguire.”
Of the 120 players in the field this week, 57 have competed in Sorenstam’s events, including the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed, which Sorenstam co-hosts with fellow Swede Henrik Stenson. Eight of the top 10 players in the world are there this week, including two-time defending champion Nelly Korda and the three players vying for Rolex Players of Year: Celine Boutier, Lilia Vu and Ruoning Yin.
On the PGA Tour, events hosted by Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and the late Arnold Palmer are the gold standard in the men’s game.
A lot on the line @theANNIKAlpga, so don’t miss any of the action‼️
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— LPGA (@LPGA) November 8, 2023
Sorenstam wants the same at Pelican, an exclusive Tampa-area club whose membership includes Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley. Sorenstam, of course, is Augusta National’s newest member.
“It starts everywhere from, I mean,…