Annika Sorenstam ‘Surprised’ By Augusta National Membership Invite

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Annika Sorenstam, nan newest female personnel astatine Augusta National Golf Club, adjacent week hosts her ... [+] namesake arena connected nan LPGA Tour arsenic portion of "Parity Week by Gainbridge." (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

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Annika Sorenstam says she was amazed and “extremely honored” by nan invitation to go a personnel astatine Augusta National Golf Club, nan location of nan yearly Masters Tournament. Sorenstam is nan first female master golfer to subordinate nan rank ranks astatine nan renowned nine successful Augusta, Georgia, which first allowed women arsenic members successful 2012.

“It was a surprise, I must opportunity that,” said Sorenstam, who won 72 times connected nan LPGA Tour. “I was truthful excited. It was 1 of nan happiest days of my play life.”

Sorenstam, 53, joins a prime group of female members astatine Augusta National that includes erstwhile U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and financier Darla Moore, who were nan first women welcomed to nan nine successful 2012. Ginni Rometty, IBM’s IBM first female CEO, was admitted arsenic a personnel successful 2014 and has been joined much precocious by erstwhile USGA President Diana Murphy, Santander Group Executive Chairman Ana Patricia Botin (whose sister was joined to two-time Masters champion Seve Ballesteros), and erstwhile NBA executive Heidi Ueberroth, who is nan co-chair of nan Pebble Beach committee of board and girl of erstwhile MLB Commissioner Peter Euberroth.

“It’s rather an honor,” Sorenstam said. “It’s ace new, truthful I’m a full rookie and I’m conscionable learning nan ropes, truthful I don’t cognize wherever this will lead. But I’m thrilled and excited astir nan opportunity to not conscionable to play nan course, but to get to cognize nan members.”

Sorenstam and erstwhile LPGA golfer Lorena Ochoa astatine nan last information of nan 2019 Augusta National ... [+] Women's Amateur pinch Atlanta Braves Chairman, CEO Terry McGuirk (left) and two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Sorenstam was asked astir nan opportunity during telephone promoting not only her LPGA event, The ANNIKA, adjacent week successful Belleair, Florida, but nan motorboat of “Parity Week by Gainbridge” – a ceremony of women’s sports that’s centered astir 3 flagship sporting events from Arizona to Spain.

The 3 events are hosted by pioneers successful women’s sports: Sorenstam, tennis fable Billie Jean King and erstwhile title car driver Lyn St. James. While Sorenstam’s tourney is nan sole namesake arena connected nan LPGA Tour, nan Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals (also known arsenic nan World Cup of Women’s Tennis) will return spot successful Seville, Spain, from Nov. 7-12, while St. James will co-chair nan Women pinch Drive III – Driven by Mobil 1 acme astatine Phoenix Raceway connected Nov. 7-8.

Between nan master play and tennis events sponsored by Gainbridge, 180 female athletes will compete for almost $13 cardinal successful full prize money during Parity Week. The namesake for nan effort is Gainbridge’s sister company, Parity, a marque sponsorship level that’s seeking to adjacent nan gender income and opportunity spread successful master sports.

“This feels for illustration a very timely conversation,” said Parity CEO Leela Srinivasan. “People are really talking astir 2023 arsenic nan twelvemonth of women’s sports. We’ve seen unthinkable maturation successful liking and a surge successful attraction this year.

“At Parity, we deliberation astir this arsenic little of a infinitesimal and much of a movement, and 1 that’s been galore years successful nan making. As we bespeak connected this transformative time, it’s a awesome clip to admit nan strides we’ve taken and nan singular women who person on nan measurement defied nan stereotypes, shattered nan solid ceilings and really ignited a spark that proceed to animate each of us.”

Annika Sorenstam takes portion successful nan First Tee ceremonial anterior to nan commencement of nan last information of nan ... [+] 2019 Augusta National Women's Amateur astatine Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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“I applaud Gainbridge,” Sorenstam said. “To create this level is unique. It’s breathtaking that we’re tying these sports together. The timing is correct for each three.”

Sorenstam’s play tournament, which is scheduled for Nov. 9-12 astatine Pelican Golf Club extracurricular Tampa, is nan sole namesake arena connected nan LPGA Tour.

King, a 39-time Grand Slam tennis champion, said connected nan telephone that she hopes Augusta National 1 time hosts an LPGA arena aliases women’s major. The nine for respective years has hosted nan Augusta National Women’s Amateur, an arena featuring an world section of nan game’s apical women’s amateur golfers.

“I cognize they person nan amateur girls, but I dream they person a pro tournament,” King said to Sorenstam. “I deliberation you’ll make a large difference. You guidelines for truthful overmuch and group perceive to you and admit you so. I cognize that’s difficult work, but I dream that’s what they’ll do.

“No pressure,” she added pinch a chuckle arsenic Sorenstam smiled and St. James, a erstwhile title car driver and nan 1992 Indy 500 Rookie of nan Year offered her congratulations.

“We can’t put her connected nan spot,” King offered. “We’ve sewage to springiness her a mates years. She’s sewage to get to cognize nan members and really it works. It’s a batch of difficult work.”

This coming week, each 3 pioneers are being honored for nan difficult activity they’ve been putting successful for years to beforehand women’s sports.

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