This story first appeared in the December 2, 2002, issue of Sports Illustrated.
It was the season finale, and Annika Sorenstam was running on empty. In October she had added two tournaments to her schedule, in Korea and Mobile, hell-bent on the idea of reaching 13 victories. The Swedish golfer loves numbers. She knows where the NASDAQ stands, the length of her average drive (265.6 yards) and the number of events the legendary Mickey Wright won in 1963 (13). No woman golfer has ever won more in a year.
Sorenstam came to the season’s final tournament with 12 victories in 2002: 10 LPGA events, plus two in Europe. Twelve out of 24 events! (Wright played in 33 tournaments in ’63, all LPGA stops.) Sorenstam is 32 years old, married, no children. She knows her clock — the clock of a driven athlete, the clock of a would-be mother — is ticking. She knows she can go this hard only so long. Next November (when she will have completed the required 10 tour seasons) she will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. That is not enough for her. Sorenstam wants admission to the pantheon, alongside the likes of Kathy Whitworth, Jack Nicklaus and most especially Wright, who swung a golf club as beautifully as anybody who has ever played. For that, Sorenstam needed to do the extraordinary. She needed to win last week at the ADT Championship at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. Nothing else would do.