Annika Sorenstam to Play American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe
LPGA All-Time Great at Silver Anniversary of Golf's Top Celebrity Tournament at Tahoe, July 15-20
(South Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev.) - The competitive landscape of the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe will dramatically alter in 2014 with the addition of LPGA great Annika Sorenstam.
The legendary golf superstar, winner of 89 international tournaments and over $22 million, is among the most successful players in history. A part-time resident of Lake Tahoe and mother of two, Sorenstam will play on even terms with pro athletes in the nationally televised, 54-hole, $600,000 competition at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
Sorenstam, 43, is 11 years removed from her memorable international foray onto the men's PGA Tour at the 2003 Colonial Open in Fort Worth, Texas. Under the media spotlight, she went toe to toe with the best players in the world, missing the cut by three strokes and earning global respect for taking the unprecedented challenge. Sorenstam retired in 2008 and her last tournament came in that season's year-end ADT Championship.
Tournament scoring is based on a modified Stableford format based on a point system by hole.
"Once you get inside the ropes, I am competitive and I'm sure that's not going to go away," offered Sorenstam about competing against the men once again. "I like the (Stableford) format. I'm playing from the same tees (as the men). Nowadays, I don't play stroke play, necessarily. So this will be a little different and I'm looking forward to it."
Celebrities include John Elway, Ray Allen, Steph Curry, Aaron Rodgers, Jerry Rice, Jason Kidd, Steve Young. Elway and Curry are expected on the leaderboard with eight-time winner Rick Rhoden, the former Big League pitcher who started 33 PGA Champions Tour events after turning 50 in 2003. Other contenders are Trent Dilfer, 2001 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens QB, former NHL star Jeremy Roenick and former NFL quarterbacks Mark Rypien and Billy Joe Tolliver.
"We expect Annika's participation to generate additional interest and buzz among fans, celebrities and media as we mark our 25th year in Lake Tahoe. She's an icon in the sport and has been a friend of the tournament for years," said Gary Quinn, vice president, programming and owned properties NBC Sports. "With her success and competitive nature, it should present a riveting dynamic for the tournament. The other celebrities will relish the opportunity to test their skills against her. Annika adds major star power to the most recognizable field in golf and yet another compelling entertainment component for viewers and fans in attendance."
In her only foray at Edgewood Tahoe in 2004, Sorenstam joined Michael Jordan, Donald Trump and Ahmad Rashad on the back nine during a practice round. She shot a 3-under 33 from the Blue (Men's) tees on a course she had never played.
Sorenstam started her golf career in 1995 and became the 13th player to capture the U.S. Women's Open as her first American victory. She spent 15 years on the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour, winning with remarkable consistency and pocketing 10 major championships. With her record six Vare Trophies; eight Rolex Player of the Year awards, Sorenstam is regarded as the greatest female golfer of the generation, and arguably the best of all-time.
"I have played the course before. The location (Lake Tahoe) is amazing. It's kind of a narrow golf course and I don't think the distance is going to be (a big factor)," continued Sorenstam, who is expected to be among the favorites to win in the legal Nevada sportsbooks. "My biggest thing nowadays is probably my accuracy on the smaller greens. I'm going to try to stay focused on golf and not the beautiful view."
Since retiring from the LPGA tour, Sorenstam has spent time with family and new business ventures. She created the ANNIKA brand, which includes a line of high-end female golf apparel and established the ANNIKA Academy, a state-of-the-art teaching facility near Orlando, Florida. With inspiration from her two children, Ava, 4, and William, 3, Sorenstam founded the ANNIKA Foundation, which teaches children the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness and nutrition and offers aspiring junior golfers opportunities to pursue their dreams. Since 2008, she has competed at the 2011 ADT Skills Challenge and the 2013 Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge.
The American Century Championship has raised over $4 million for scores of charities including UNCF, Autism Speaks, Mark Cuban's Fallen Patriot Fund, FDNY's Uniformed Firefighter Scholarship Fund and LIVESTRONG. In the wake of a 2007 Tahoe region fire, tournament players raised $485,000 for relief and rebuilding initiatives.
NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network will televise all three rounds of the tournament live.
Tournament title sponsor American Century Investments is a leading privately-held investment management firm, serving investment professionals, institutions, corporations and individuals a variety of actively managed investment disciplines through an array of products.
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