LAKE ELMO, Minn. – Annika Sorenstam took a back seat to the action happening in front of her.
Sorenstam and her husband, Mike McGee, were perched on a hill looking over the 18th green and down the fairway at Royal Golf Club outside of Minneapolis. Occasionally, spectators would notice Sorenstam was sitting there and ask for a picture or say hello, but when she wasn’t entertaining her fans, she was intently watching the golf in front of her.
Sorenstam was in town for the annual ANNIKA Intercollegiate, a college tournament her foundation started in 2014 that features some of the top women’s college golf teams across the country. Wake Forest captured the team title on a windy Wednesday afternoon while Virginia sophomore Amanda Sambach won the individual crown. Yet for the tournament’s namesake, it’s yet another event where she gives back to the golfing community.
“This tournament has grown very consistently and been really solid every team,” Sorenstam said. “Just look at the teams. the reception is so good. The coaches are so thankful, and I get to know the players more and more every year.
“This is one of our bigger events.”
ANNIKA Intercollegiate: Scores
That’s why it’s important for Sorenstam to come to Minnesota every year in one of the premier women’s golf tournaments on the schedule. It also happens at Royal Golf Club, which is a course she and the late Arnold Palmer co-designed. It’s Palmer’s last design before his death and Sorenstam’s first in the United States.
Players and coaches alike recognize the significance of Sorenstam being present, too.
“Annika is literally the greatest of all time, so it’s really awesome just to be at a site where I know she’ll be,” Sambach said. “She’s such an inspiration.”
Soremstam arrived in Minnesota on Tuesday, and she threw out the first pitch at the Minnesota Twins’ game that night. Then she spent all of the final round Wednesday at Royal Golf Club, interacting with players, coaches and spectators.
The ANNIKA Intercollegiate is just one of the numerous events hosts not only in Minnesota but also across the country. She hosts the ANNIKA Invitational early in the year, which is recognized as one of the top junior events in the country. She’s also active with numerous clinics, including her “Share my Passion” series that she does at stops on the PGA and LPGA tours.
On Tuesday, Sorenstam also announced plans for a future LPGA event in Tampa Bay.
She makes an effort to attend most of her events and clinics, and Sorenstam is always making time to interact with the attendees and competitors. Yet the ANNIKA Intercollegiate is really special because of its location and it’s an opportunity to watch players she has seen grow up playing her events.
“We see them make the transition and in every phase of their golf life,” Sorenstam said. “Just to follow women’s golf and you look at them, it’s really cool to be associated. These are role models and ambassadors. They represent the game very well. It’s fun to be a part of it.”
Story originally appeared on GolfWeek