Few players in professional golf, male or female, have been more competitive than Sweden's Annika Sorenstam, and, thus, few players compiled a more impressive resume, one that includes both records and barriers broken.
The first female golfer to break 60 in an official tournament and the first woman to compete in a PGA TOUR event in half a century, Sorenstam proved over a 16-year professional career to be among the greatest players in the history of women's golf. She collected 87 official victories, including 72 on the LPGA Tour - third most all-time - and 10 major championships.
Born Oct. 9, 1970 in Stockholm, Sorenstam preferred tennis as a youngster until taking up golf at age 12. She found success quickly, despite shyness so profound that she at times wasted shots intentionally to avoid being interviewed upon winning tournaments.
After attending the University of Arizona, where she was a two-time All-American and won the 1991 NCAA Championship, Sorenstam turned professional in 1993. She won her first pro tournament the following year at the Holden Women's Australian Open. In 1995, she made the U.S. Women's Open her first LPGA victory. When she successfully defended her title in 1996, Sorenstam was on her way to establishing herself as a force in women's golf.
On March 21, 2001, Sorenstam fired a 13-under-par 59 in the second round of the Standard Register PING at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, Ariz., the first of her many records. With 11 wins in 2002, she tied Mickey Wright for the LPGA single-season mark, and when she won 10 times in 2005, Sorenstam joined Wright as the only LPGA players to twice win 10 or more times in a season. In the midst of that 2005 season, Sorenstam triumphed in five straight starts, tying Nancy Lopez for the longest winning streak in LPGA history.
Named LPGA Player of the Year a record eight times, Sorenstam was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003, the same year she competed in the Bank of America Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, as the first female to play in a men's event since Babe Zaharias in 1945. Sorenstam showed off her impeccable shot-making skills but couldn't take advantage of numerous birdie opportunities. She missed the cut with rounds of 71-75 but earned immense praise for her steady play and coolness under pressure.
"Anyone who watched her has a deeper appreciation of women's golf," LPGA Tour player Lorie Kane said.
Sorenstam retired in 2008 to attend to her growing business interests and her Annika Foundation, and to help grow the game through initiatives like her golf academy and course design. She also wanted to start a family, and today Sorenstam lives in Orlando, Fla., with her husband, Mike McGee, and their children, Ava and William.
Winner of the first PGA Championship, Jim Barnes carved out an impressive record in an era dominated by Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. Known as "Long Jim" because of his 6-foot-4-inch stature and powerful drives, Barnes was born April 8, 1886, in Lelant, England, and came to America as a club pro in 1905. He defeated fellow emigre Jock Hutchinson 1 up in the 1916 PGA at Siwanoy Country Club in New York, and defended his title in 1919 after the PGA was suspended for two years because of World War I. He captured the 1921 U.S. Open by a record nine strokes over Hagen and Fred McLeod and then won the remaining major tournament of that time, the Open Championship, in 1925. In addition to his four major titles, Barnes is credited with 21 other victories, including three western Opens. He died May 24, 1966, in East Orange, N.J.
A lifelong amateur player who was a stalwart of the Walker Cup, Joe Carr remained competitive for four decades while building a reputation as one of the game's finest ambassadors. Born Joseph Benedict Waters on February 22, 1922, in Dublin, Ireland, Carr was adopted by his aunt, Kathleen, and her husband, James Carr, who was club steward at Portmarnock Golf Club. Tall and lean, Carr developed an exceptional short game at Portmarnock to complement his long but sometimes erratic driving. He compiled 40 victories, highlighted by three British Amateur crowns in 1953, '58 and '60. His selection to 11 consecutive Walker Cup teams (1947-67) is a record. A clothier by trade, Carr was awarded the Bob Jones Award for sportsmanship in 1961, the first non-American to win the honor. In 1991 he was the first Irishman to serve as Captain of the R&A. Carr died June 3, 2004, in his native Dublin.
Considered one of the pioneers of professional golf, Willie Park, Sr. was a prominent club and ball maker, course designer and champion golfer whose major claim to fame was victory in the inaugural Open Championship in 1860 at Prestwick. Born June 30, 1933, in Wallyford, Scotland, Park was the first professional to rise from the caddie ranks to become an accomplished player, one known for his long drives and exceptional putting. That combination made him a tough foe in challenge matches, the most popular form of competition in the era. In the first four Opens, Park and his chief rival, Tom Morris, Sr., finished either first or second, with Park adding a second title in 1863 and then winning again in 1866 and 1875. His son, Willie Park, Jr. and his brother, Mungo, also won the Open. Park is credited with designing more than 30 golf courses, some with his son, before he dien May 25, 1903, in Edinburgh, Scotland.