Ten-time Major winner and World Golf Hall of Famer, Annika Sörenstam, is back on the Ladies European Tour this week and she is putting her full weight behind the new La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational tournament, as part of a bold new vision for women’s golf in Europe.
As the tournament host, Annika will conduct a junior coaching clinic, play in the Pro-Am and bring exposure to this week’s event, which tees off at La Reserva Club de Sotogrande on Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference today, the 89-time tournament champion, widely regarded as the greatest woman golfer of all time, congratulated the event sponsor, Sotogrande SA, the founding entity of Sotogrande, Ladies European Tour chair Marta Figueras-Dotti and promoters Deporte and Business for their vision and roles in creating and organising a new full-field women’s championship in Spain.
She said: “I care about the Ladies European Tour and these young women and we need more sponsors like La Reserva de Sotogrande. It’s a credit to Spain that there are now three LET events and a local tour: that’s how you create the next generation.
“I used to come to this area, Marbella, Malaga and especially Sotogrande and Valderrama, to spend weeks here with the Swedish national team and I have wonderful memories. This is really where I started to focus on my goal and start dreaming and visualising my life as a professional golfer.
“It’s come full circle now and to be able to bring my family here and be part of the LET as well is really cool. I took my kids to Puerto Banus yesterday and it’s really nice to come out here to the quieter places and the lifestyle I enjoy.”
The visionary behind the event, Marc Topiol, CEO of Sotogrande S.A. said: “We are blessed to have Annika here and it’s quite mind boggling to be sitting next to the best lady golfer to have walked the planet, here at La Reserva.
“The hosting is really the first step and we’re discovering ourselves from the standpoint of what the two organisations can do.
“Our purpose here is to create an event which has an aura around family, equality and excellence in women in general – well beyond golf – and I hope that we will be able to make this the Annika tournament for years to come.
“You have the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the Muirfield Village event in Ohio hosted by Jack Nicklaus. It is my goal and hopefully, we will get there and I see no reason why not, that we can have the Annika tournament in La Reserva that becomes an iconic stop in the world of golf and beyond. It’s very natural.”
La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational, which will be televised live around the world on all four tournament days, will showcase La Reserva’s stunning location, nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the densely-wooded Andalusian hills, which will provide a breath-taking setting for an epic spectacle. The players will be able to enjoy all the facilities, which include an inland beach, with white sand from the nearby paradise of Tarifa and a lake offering water sports from jet-boards to stand-up paddle-boarding.
Marc Topiol continued: “It’s going to be a family experience. We need our guests to enjoy life and perform the best they can. We are more than summer and we are more than golf. La Reserva is a place for families to do what they don’t usually do and experience things they don’t see in other places.”
Annika, who always puts family first, said that she is now enjoying the social side of golf. Although she has not been inspired to play again competitively by watching fellow former world number one Tiger Woods win The Masters, she said: “I’m starting to enjoy it more and go out golfing from a family perspective. I’m not so concerned about long drives, but more the social aspect of the game.
“I’m a competitive person, but I think I get a lot of satisfaction through business, the foundation work, the course design and Annika collection: I want to make sure it’s the very best.”
She added that 25 of the competitors in the La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational have been part of the Annika Invitational series of events and that she takes her investment in the development of the players very seriously.
With a world class venue, top field and Annika’s involvement, the La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational is set to be a thrilling success from the very beginning.