Wednesday, 22 May 2013 10:08
Sweden has produced a few golfers who, when seen in real life or on TV, are instantly recognized. Jesper Parnevik, with his turned up cap brim comes to mind. Annika Sorenstam is instantly identified for her brilliant play and her fabulous career. So popular, she has reached the level of one name fame, Annika.
There is another person from Sweden who was instantly recognized on the professional men's tour. For over two decades, Fanny Sunesson was seen almost every weekend on the TV screens of golfers around the world, especially on Sunday. Unlike the others, she never swung a club.
At age 15, playing golf as an amateur, Fanny Sunesson decided to get an insight on the professional tour. She persuaded European Tour player, Jaime Gonzalez, to let her caddie for him in 1986. Fanny soon began caddying for Howard Clark during the 1980s. Her debut into big time golf came when Nick Faldo asked her to join him at the end of 1989.
Faldo would win four majors, together with Sunesson, over a nine-year period. It was Fanny who decided to leave Faldo in 1999. Her next gig was caddying for Sergio Garcia. That combination was a short-lived stint of only eight tournaments. She was sacked after a run of poor play by Garcia, culminating with him missing the cut in The Players Championship.
Sunesson then had stints with Fred Funk and Notah Begay III before being rehired by Nick Faldo. Upon his retirement to the TV booth, Fanny went to work for fellow Swede, Henrik Stenson.
Fanny was forced to retire last year as a freak on course accident left Fanny with a back that cannot take the stress of professional looping. Not letting that keep her down, Fanny is now the mental coach for tour player, Martin Kaymer, and lectures on the mental aspect of playing golf.
Though Fanny has carried many a round in tournaments hosted by celebrities, she probably never guessed that when she was that 15 year old caddie, she would be one day hosting her own event. However, Fanny will, indeed, be the hostess for the Sölvesborg Ladies Open, a new Nordea Tour event.
"I was a little surprised when the request came, but this will be exciting," says Fanny. She said yes a couple of weeks ago, meaning that on May 22 to 24, she begins her new and, for her, unusual assignment. The Nordea Tour is a primary path for players to reach the Ladies European Tour.
Asked about what her role will be, Sunesson answered, "The idea is, that I'll share my experiences from my years on the tour. I was a tournament director at the Volvo World Golf Challenge in South Africa where 67 amateurs from 30 countries participated. I learned a lot from it. In Sölvesborg, I will take care of the sponsors during the pro-am, give talks and make sure everyone has a good time. If I have the opportunity, I will be on site throughout the competition."
As to the future?
"It will be fun to have a contest in Blekinge (the local province) and, if everything works fine, it is hoped that it (the event) will be there for the long term," said the new hostess.
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 10:08
Last September, at the initial Annika Invitational Europe, I had the very great pleasure of interviewing one of golf’s best players, Annika Sörenstam. Annika was taking her annual “vacation” in Sweden by hosting a golf event for the talented junior women of Europe.
Back in the States, Annika was beginning to dip her toes into TV by being a commentator on the Morning Drive on the USA’s Golf Channel. One of the questions I asked Annika:
Me: I see that you're on "Morning Drive" (the Golf Channel's morning show in the USA). Is a TV career something you're considering?
AS: I've been dabbling in it, with the weekly spot on the Morning Drive. I did the US Open and I'm doing something later in the year, but that's where I leave it. It's fun to share a little bit, but I wouldn't want to do it full time. It's hard because some of those players I used to compete against, and then you have to become an expert on the players, you know, who's working on what. I think I'm more about the game overall and not about dissecting every piece.❞
The former world’s number one women’s golfer now has several titles on her business card: Chief executive of a global brand, golf course designer, winemaker, golf academy director, wife and mother. Now, Annika Sörenstam adds another title: subject of a TV golf reality show.
Her new job is an ambassador with IMG Media's Golfing World, a television programming platform. The agreement means that she will be followed by TV cameras as she works on the various projects she is involved with. From the golf tournaments that bear her name to her visits to majors events, running the golf academy and any of her other business projects. What will be of particular interest is if the show will follow her through this year's Solheim Cup in Colorado, USA.
“Although I retired from the game in 2008, my schedule is more active now than in my playing days. Golfing World's video platform will allow fans a unique insight into my travels around the world sharing my new passions of fitness and nutrition, junior golf for girls and golf course design,” said Annika in a statement.
Rupert Hunter, VP IMG Media commented "Golfing World is very excited to be working with Annika in her capacity as a brand ambassador for our ever evolving media platform. To have the opportunity to work so closely with one of the game's greats and share the wide variety of her business interests with golf fans around the world is something we are very much looking forward to."
While she generously shared her life after retiring from golf competition on her website and through her blog, this new exposure will be global. This new program will be showing Annika juggling all her entrepreneurial passions and her hectic schedule. Golfing World is broadcast in 40 countries and reaches over 300 million people.
IMG Media is working with several media platforms, television, web and mobile, and publishing about most aspects of golf - competitions, what happens behind the scenes, instruction and travel.
Annika’s fellow ambassadors at Golfing World include Colin Montgomerie, Retief Goosen and Natalie Gulbis.
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 10:08
Dr. Suess said those words in the headline, which are most approbiate for announcement from one of golf's most recognizable characters.
Just over a year ago, Swedish professional caddy, Fanny Sunesson, injured herself and, seemingly, disappeared from the men's professional tour. She has now announced that she has put the bag down for good.
"It feels rather undignified to end up like this, but I am content with how amazing this life has been," she said to the Swedish golf magazine, Svensk Golf.
During a misunderstanding with an officer on the hilly terrain of Switzerland caused her to lose her balance resulting in a serious back injury. Seen in the big picture, it meant that one of modern golf's most successful caddy career came, right there and then, to an end.
Since that fateful day last fall, Fanny Sunesson has not come back to lift Henrik Stenson's bag. While her back is somewhat better, it is still painful. It meant that she had to take a break and get some space to think and reflect. The result was the break allowed the increasingly practical thought of leaving the glamorus professional tour life to gain a foothold.
She has made her decision. "My caddie career is over. It feels a little sad to end it like this. It happened and nothing was really finalized with Henrik as I had wanted it to. So if my back holds and he still has a desire, I can imagine jumping in at some point so we can do a proper farewell," she told Svensk Golf.
She doesn't sound discouraged or sad, but looks resigned about the circamstances. Fanny revealed that she had planned to not continue to caddy full time.
"Henrik and I had talked about me going down to 50 percent, allowing me to go more into my second career as a coach. So the plans to step down were already in place," she said.
One of the most successful caddy careers in modern golf comes to an end. We Swedes like to remember her for, among other things, being on the bag with Henrik Stenson for his TPC victory. In the big world of professional golf, Fanny is more famous for her work with Nick Faldo. That fruitful, and unique, collaboration resulted in four major victories.
"We had a lovely time together and it was great to get the chance to work for him. It's a rare pleasure to work with such a player," says Sunesson.
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 10:08
Jessica Wallstrom, of Kungsbacka, took her fourth European Championship title in long driving this past weekend. The event was held at the Hills Golf Club outside Gothenburg in cool and blustery conditions.
Her final drive of 234 meters (256 yards) was enough for the win over Helena Rhodin from Stockholm. Jessica's longest effort during the contest was in the semifinals, where her drive, with almost no roll, reached 243 meters (266 yards).
The 29-year-old Gothenburg native, who is competing for the Kungsbacka Golf Club, has won the European Championship in 2005, 2007 and 2008.
"Unfortunately, the interest in female long driving is very weak, at present. Today there were only five girls who came to the contest and all of them were Swedes. Of course, that's not too impressive," says Jessica.
"There are girls who think that this (long driving) is fun and are trying to get into the competitive scene. Unfortunately, it's hard to keep them, so growth right now is not very good.
Jessica Wallstrom played on the former Telia Tour in the early 2000's but retired early on from the traditional competition. Today, she has a four handicap and, if she competes, it is at club level. When it comes to hitting a golf ball a long way, the spark is still there.
The men's class has much greater interest. About 50 men were in the qualifying rounds. Eventually, two Englishmen made up the finals, which eventually was won by Tom Hollingsworth.
The best Swedes were Gothenburg's Carl Maxe and Carl Pettersson. Each reached the semifinals.
Jessica Wallstrom was not the only Swedish Championship winner. Johan Tumba, a steady long driving competitor and one of the organizers of the championship event, won the senior division and Joakim Bolten Stern was champion in the Super Seniors.
For Jessica Wallstrom was a busy weekend. The young entrepreneur, who has her own company called"Girl Power Golf," became European champion on Saturday. On Sunday, she helped in the grand opening of the Gothenburg Golf Hall. Jessica is one of six owners.
"We have opened the hall in the Old Town's factory district, where we offer two of the most realistic golf simulators. We have 580 square meters of floor space so there is room for more simulators in the future," says Jessica.
In the Gothenburg Golf Hall, which also houses a putting green, there will be competitions in various forms. We're pretty confidant that there will be a lot of long driving contests because not only Jessica, but also one of her partners regularly competes in the Long Driving circuit.
Gamlestadsvägen 4 (Gamlestadens fabriker)
415 02 Göteborg
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 10:08
(This was written for the Championships in Sweden Blog for the Swedish Golf Federation. I had been writing the English text blog all week. It didn't make the final edition, so here it is for the readers of Swedish Golf Online.)
A few minutes after six p.m. on Saturday, after five grueling days of golf, Marcus Gran of Sweden softly rolled in a par putt and gave Sweden the title of the European Boys Team Championships for 2012.
It was the match up that everyone expected of these two, Italy and Sweden, the best playing teams the entire week. Sweden came out a little slow on the morning of the first day, and nobody knows what they had for lunch but, from that afternoon on, they played with a confidence that seemed to grow throughout the week.
The Italians never were really challenged until the Longest Day, Day Four. A 5½ hour rain and thunder delay had the teams of Italy and England playing until almost dark, going back and fourth the entire day. Finally, after 10 p.m., the Italians got the winning point in the next to last round of the day.
Saturday's final match started out with foursomes, and set the stage for the afternoon singles as each team garnered a win, Sweden 3/2 and the Italians holding serve 2/1.
The afternoon singles was played under the threat of rain that thankfully never materialized. It was cool all day and the wind was up to gusts of 18 mph. It didn't seem to affect the play as neither team was able to take command. In the first two matches, Hannes Rönneblad of Sweden in the first match and Luigi Botta in the second established control early and never let up. Each player won 3/2 to give their teams their second points of the day.
In the final matches of the day, Adam Ström of Sweden had pretty good control of Filippo Campigli, the Italian who won the final point over England 20 hours before. Victor Tärnström of Sweden had a stubborn opponent in Italy's Giulio Castagnara. Giulio remained in striking distance the entire match. However, his brave effort finally was dashed when Gran sunk his putt on 18. A tip of my Gator cap to Tärnström, who was clutch all week.
In the third place match, Germany was third over England 4-3.
The rest of the teams finished their week with some unexpected results and some teams showing bright promise for the future.
Three teams were relegated to qualifying for next year's event. They were Denmark (14), Switzerland (15) and Wales (16). They will play in Bulgaria next month in the qualifying event.
France over Ireland (3-2)
Norway over Scotland (3-2)
Spain over Austria (3-2)
Finland over Netherlands (3-2)
Czech Republic over Denmark (3-2)
Switzerland over Wales (3-2)
That, golfers, was the week that was here in Lidingö. Congratulations to all the teams that participated in this week's event. A special acclaim to the Swedish team and their coaches who were not only deserving champions but gracious hosts, as well. Thanks to all the volunteers and staff members who worked long hours and brought the event off without a hitch.
I have to say that for any golfer in Sweden, if you're in the Stockholm area, give the Lidingö GK a try. This is a fun, scenic and testing golf course and a challenge for any handicap. It also proves that you don't have to be 7,500 meters to be called a championship course. Ask any player that was here this week.
I can't wait to give it a go.
Photo: Göran Söderqvist
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