By Michelle Hantak, AJGA Communications
In 2009, LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam and the ANNIKA Foundation teamed up with the AJGA for the first time to host an AJGA girls-only Invitational. This partnership created an award-winning tournament that not only provides participants with an opportunity to compete at a high level, but also allows them to learn from Annika.
Reunion Resort in Reunion, Florida, has hosted the ANNIKA Invitational on its Watson Course since the event’s inception. The par-72 course spans 7,257 yards and has garnered numerous accolades from Golfweek, Golf Digest and GOLF magazines as being one of the top resort courses in the nation. Prior to hosting the ANNIKA Invitational, Reunion Resort hosted the 2007 and 2008 Polo Golf Junior Classic.
Bethany Wu of Diamond Bar, California, made ANNIKA Invitational history in 2014 when she became the first two-time winner of the event. Wu also set a record during her 2013 victory after posting the lowest score in tournament history with a 10-under-par 206. Although Wu will not be competing in the 2015 tournament, new participants will be eager to make their own marks in the tournament’s record book.
After earning their victories, ANNIKA Invitational champions have continued in golf whether in college or on the LPGA Tour.
Simin Feng of Orlando, Florida, won the inaugural event and after spending one year at Vanderbilt, she is set to compete as a LPGA Tour rookie during 2015 alongside 2012 champion Alison Lee of Valencia, California. After being named 2013 Rolex Junior Player of the Year, Lee succeeded immediately on the college level – she was named a UCLA All-American and won the inaugural ANNIKA Award for most outstanding female collegiate golfer. Lee and Feng join 2010 ANNIKA Invitational champion and 2008-2009 Rolex Junior Player of the Year Victoria Tanco of Bradenton, Florida, who began competing professionally in 2012.
2011 champion Celine Boutier of Montrouge, France, is a junior at Duke and earned All-America honors during her first two seasons as a Blue Devil. Wu, a high school senior, signed her National Letter of Intent to play golf at UCLA in November 2014.
More than Golf
Over the past seven years, the ANNIKA Invitational has been much more than a golf tournament. The event offers a memorable week for participants, guests and staff, as Sorenstam and her team at the ANNIKA Foundation do whatever it takes to make the week special.
Throughout the tournament, participants have the opportunity to participate in the ANNIKA Clinic sponsored by Rolex and attend the “Winning Approach” presented by the ANNIKA Academy, seminars aimed at helping prepare the girls for future careers in college and professional golf.