Why is everyone stupidly assuming Annika Sorenstam will stay retired?
When Annika Sorenstam announced her retirement, I was deep into Canada - which really is becoming more and more its own removed world where America feels eons away. Busy combining beer and chocolate, getting fussed over by arguably the world’s best concierge and playing the rare golf trail that actually makes sense, I didn’t have much chance to reflect on Annika’s sayonara. To be fair, I’m not sure that 10 whole people on Vancouver Island even noticed it.
But what’s struck me since I’ve been back is what easy, eager suckers most golf writers are.
Everyone seems to have taken Sorenstam’s declaration that she will retire at the end of this season as something saintly set in stone. Which means most golf fans must be complete morons - or at least incapable of remembering what happens in every other sport in the world. Two words: Brett Favre.
Now I don’t doubt that Sorenstam will likely take a year off after this season (though winning one of the year’s last three majors might even change that quick). I just can’t see her staying out of golf for good. She’ll have that year or two break, maybe even have a kid, and then she’ll be back, suddenly realizing that Kathy Whitworth’s career wins record means more to her than she thought, heck just suddenly understandingly what all athletes who retire quickly do: Nothing replaces the thrill of pro competition. Nothing even comes close.
Annika Sorenstam is not Tiger Woods. When Tiger makes a goodbye announcement someday (likely on his website out of the blue) you’ll never see him again. Annika has never been as sure of things as Tiger. She’s more mercurial, more Michael Jordan (you remember him, 45 on the Washington Wizards) in real temperament even as she blunted it for game and PR reasons.
Sorry, I can’t see Sorenstam staying away. Yes, she’s 37 - that still leaves plenty of years to reconsider. Sorenstam will never be dominant again, but she’ll be swinging again, long after this year.
WorldGolf.com’s Tim Mcdonald writes in his column this week that he believes Sorenstam is just being Swedish. It’s a well-written column, but it only proves that McDonald’s spent a little too much time in Sweden lately and when Old McDonald’s in any country for a while, he’ll start to assume that all its citizens are strangely divine creatures (see some of his South Africa work from a few years ago). Plus, he obviously never saw the young Sorenstam who’d berate herself and caddies in parking lots.
Sorenstam isn’t being Swedish. She’s being an athlete. Impulsive, grabbing at the satisfying retirement attention because it seems like the right thing to do at the time. Athletes “retire” all the time. Most come back pretty quickly.
Here’s betting that Annika Sorenstam will be returning too.
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