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Not so fast, Annika

Annika Sorenstam announced her retirement (at the end of this year) from competitive golf, yesterday. Kind of. She has left the door open for a “return” in a year or two.

True to her meticulous nature, this has been something that she has been thinking about and planning for quite some time. Sorenstam has a great many other interests including course design and clothing lines (she has been working feverishly on “branding” herself for the last four years).

Sorenstam is also getting married to Mike McGee (son of Tour player Jerry), in January and they have immediate plans to start a family. More meticulous planning. It would be no surprise if Sorenstam has already decided on what day the baby should be born.

And there in lies the rub, for great female athletes, especially golfers. Golfers are in their prime in their 30’s and early forties, as opposed to most other sports where athletes peak in their 20’s. Sorenstam is 37. The biological clock, therefore, for a female golfer, who wants to have a family, ticks a lot more loudly. Not fair really, considering that Tiger Woods, became a Father last year, but it hardly interrupted his playing schedule.

We put a lot of emphasis on numbers as they relate to sporting greatness. The number 88 in golf is significant because, that is the most amount of wins on the Tour (male or female), and it is belongs to the legendary, Kathy Whitworth. Most observers would have hoped for Sorenstam (she has won 72 times, to date, on the LPGA Tour) to make a run at that, and surpass it.

Despite her proposed hiatus, don’t be too surprised if we see Annika coming back to try to add this record to her incomparable career. Here’s why. Despite all of the reasons that she has outlined in her announcement, Annika remains one of the most fierce and determined competitors, in any sport, of all time. Yes, she wants to start a family, and supervise her various business interests; but the fire that has burned in her for so long, will be a roaring flame, in two years. Only time will tell.