Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb have combined for 113 LPGA Tour titles over brilliant careers, but the footprints they’ve had on the game of the golf and the people that love it most are immeasurable.
This week at the Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic there is living, breathing evidence of their impact.
Annika Clark, a junior at Texas Christian University, earned a spot in the field. She is named after Annika Sorenstam.
Like all expecting parents, the name of a child is an important decision. Anna and Jody Clark were deciding on a name and just before the summer of 1997. Jody is a golf enthusiast who once played six times a week. He was torn between Annika and Karrie, the top two players in the women’s game at the time.
“They were dueling for number one when I was born and my dad loves golf and my mom liked both names,” explained Clark, who finished her first round on Saturday morning at 6-over. “My dad always liked how Annika competed so it is really cool to have someone to look up to growing up. It automatically gave me such a great role model for golf.”
Annika Clark played basketball and softball in addition to golf as a kid, but eventually gave up the other two and gravitated to the sport her namesake once dominated.
“I love golf,” said Clark, whose nickname is Shark because of her infectious smile and aggressive mentality on the course. “I guess I was destined to do this, that’s what a lot of people say.”
Annika was on the course with her father by the time she could walk and started playing in tournaments at the age of seven. She won the 2015 WTGA State Amateur Championship as a junior and has six career top 10s in three years at TCU.
The logical next step is the LPGA Tour.
“I have one more year of college, I’ll get my degree, and then go home and practice for Q-School,” said Clark, who is a Journalism major and has an internship lined up this summer with the Texas Golf Association. “The LPGA is the dream.”
Two years ago, Annika Clark met Annika Sorenstam for the first time at the ANNIKA Invitational AJGA event.
“It was really cool because she did a clinic and I got to meet her and tell her I was named after her,” explained Clark. “I even got a picture of her and my dad.”
Clark played with LPGA veteran Natalie Gulbis and European Solheim Cup team member Emily Pedersen in the first-round.
“It has been really eye-opening,” explained Clark. “It is nice to hear what they go through with housing and travel and everything. Getting to talk to them first hand is really awesome. It has been everything I expected and more.”
In 2003, when Annika Clark was six, Sorenstam famously competed agains the men on the PGA TOUR at Colonial Country Club.
About 11 years later when Clark was deciding on a college, she choose TCU in part because Colonial is in the rotation of courses that the Horned Frogs practice and play. In fact, it’s just a five minute drive from campus in Fort Worth.
“Knowing that, I had my heart set on TCU because I’ve seen features about her playing the PGA at Colonial. We get to go to the Colonial and it’s just a cool historical place to be right by.”
In short time, there will likely be a new Annika on the LPGA and we can thank Sorenstam and Webb for that.
After watching Sorenstam compete for years on the LPGA, Annika's father gets to walk inside the ropes alongside his Annika this week on the LPGA.