On May 22, 2003, Annika became the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event since 1945, when she teed it up in the Bank of America Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. Starting on the 10th tee with the world watching, she striped the longest four-wood of her career right down the middle. “On the first hole, I remember just trying to keep my hands from shaking so the ball would stay on the tee,” she said.
This historic occasion was followed closely by people from all walks of life around the world. Annika hit the ball beautifully Thursday and Friday and demonstrated her characteristic grace despite just missing the cut. On this, the 10-year anniversary, she looks back and regards that week at Colonial as one of the highlights of her career.
“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. It was quite the journey to get to Colonial, and I cherish the memories made that week, but also the countless hours of work on the course and in the gym that led up to it. I had incredible support and learned a lot about myself.”
As the tournament approached, Annika’s invite was scrutinized by everybody. Some praised her participation and some criticized, including several PGA Tour players and media. As she always does, Annika persevered and handled all that was thrown her way with class and dignity in the months leading up to the Colonial and during her two tournament rounds.
Over the course of the week, Annika was the talk of the sports world and cheered through each hole by an enormous gallery of followers and fans. She struck the ball very well, but many times was forced to play short of fairway bunkers that the guys routinely drove over. Despite this disadvantage, she still hit a high percentage of greens. Unfortunately, her putting was slightly off, which she attributed to nerves. Annika posted a very respectable 1-over-par 71 in the first round, which was good for 73rd place. She hung around for a long time on Friday, giving her all on every shot, but a second-round 74 kept her from playing the weekend.
“I was very pleased with the way I hit it from tee to green,” Annika said. “I wish I would have made a few more putts, but I was nervous and your short game is usually where that will show.”
Annika has always just thought of herself as a golfer, not necessarily a female golfer. That week, she was a trailblazer who instilled great pride in women around the world. She had her Oakley’s off and shared her emotions with everyone. Although she missed the cut, Annika will always look back at Colonial fondly, knowing she displayed a strong competitive spirit and represented the LPGA, aspiring female golfers everywhere and herself with the utmost class. She might have been “just one of the boys” for that tournament, but she showed everyone just what it means to “play like a girl.”