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Annika Sorenstam honored with Digger Smith Award

LPGA legend and longtime AJGA Tournament Host honored with champion of junior golf award
Annika speaking about Digger Smith Award'.JPG

Braselton, GA - The American Junior Golf Association is proud to announce Annika Sorenstam as the recipient of the 2023 Digger Smith Award.

The award, presented annually since 1991, honors a supporter devoted to the AJGA's mission who has consistently and actively served junior golf. The award is named in honor of AJGA Chairman of the Board J.R. “Digger” Smith, who has dedicated himself to the AJGA and to junior golf for more than three decades.

Past recipients have included Premier Partner Rolex, members of the AJGA Board of Directors including Joseph E. Quirk III, Mark Brazil and Jim Nugent, AJGA Executive Assistant Mary Ann Cowgur and many Tournament Chairs who make the AJGA's 140 plus event schedule possible annually. A full list of past recipients can be found here .

Annika's commitment to growing the game of golf specifically for young female golfers is unparalleled. Sorenstam was honored with this award because of her actions to advance women's golf alongside the AJGA through the ANNIKA Foundation.

In 2007, Annika started the ANNIKA Foundation to serve as a platform to provide opportunities to female golfers at the junior, collegiate and professional levels. After the 2008 season Annika stepped away from professional golf to focus on her family and growing the foundation. Her professional career included 72 LPGA wins and 11 Major titles. She is the only female ever to break 60 and shoot a 59 in a competitive round. In 2003, she became the first female in 58 years to play a PGA TOUR event at the Colonial Invitational.

In 2009, Annika partnered with the AJGA to host the first ANNIKA Invitational in the United States. The event, now named the Hilton Grand Vacations ANNIKA Invitational presented by Rolex, celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2024 and features a long line of distinguished past champions including LPGA professionals Alison Lee, Angel Yin and Celine Boutier. The annual event awards an LPGA exemption to its champion to play in the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions to give juniors their first taste of the professional golf world.

I'm thankful that the AJGA is looking at the initiatives that we have and feel that we are making an impact in junior girls' lives as far as golf and empowering them whether it is through the golf tournaments or through our 'More Than Golf' initiatives. I'm super thrilled. I mean to listen to the previous recipients and know what they've done for the sport, I'm just thankful for that.
Annika Sorenstam, 2023 Recipient of the Digger Smith Award

The foundation annually hosts seven events, six junior events and one collegiate event, around the world on five different continents. The tournaments host more than 600 junior and collegiate athletes annually. The ANNIKA Foundation also hosts 'Share my Passion' clinics and 'More than Golf' sessions alongside Annika's partners for female golfers of all ages. These programs are hosted around the US with focus on getting young girls interested in the game of golf.

In 2017, Annika and the ANNIKA Foundation also endowed a Liberty National Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant - the AJGA's financial assistance program. Since then seven young women have had their junior golf careers fully funded by Annika and the foundation.

In 2023, Annika title sponsored her first LPGA event, The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican. The event featured 57 ANNIKA alumnae (past players in ANNIKA Foundation events). Additionally 2023 marked the first year of the ANNIKA Development Program. The program is meant to help jumpstart the professional golf careers of young female recent graduates of a 4-year college golf program in the United States.

When you look at what's she's done, I don't know if there's anybody that compares to her and what she's given back to junior golf. From tournaments and clinics all over the world and with everything she's put together to support girls and women in golf. It goes beyond junior golf, I mean she's doing collegiate, amateur and professional golf. There's no one more deserving than her for this award, truly.
Stephen Hamblin, AJGA Executive Director

Most recent, Annika became the title sponsor of the ANNIKA Women's All-Pro Tour driven by Callaway. Her investment in another path for young women to reach the highest level of professional golf on the LPGA tour.

Her name is used to honor those at the highest levels of the women's professional and collegiate game as well. The ANNIKA Award presented by Stifel is presented annually to the top Division I female golfer as voted on by peers, coaches and members of the golf media. Past recipients include AJGA and ANNIKA alumnae Rose Zhang and Maria Fassi. On the LPGA side, The Rolex ANNIKA Major Award recognizes the player who, during the current LPGA season, has the most outstanding Major Championship record. Past recipients of the Rolex ANNIKA Major award include Lilia Vu, Patty Tavatanakit and Ariya Jutanugarn.

Annika also lent her time in 2021 to the PING Junior Solheim Cup where she lead Team Europe as their Captain. The Solheim Cup legend, who has earned 24 points all-time for Europe, led junior Team Europe to their first win on US soil in the history of the event.

Sorenstam's contributions to the game of golf are many, making her designation as the 2023 Digger Smith Award earned in every sense. The AJGA is proud to continue to partner with Annika and The ANNIKA Foundation on growing the game of women's golf.

About the ANNIKA Foundation
Annika created the ANNIKA Foundation after stepping away from professional play ( ) to develop and empower the next generation of women around the world through the game of golf. More specifically, it provides opportunities in women’s golf at the junior, collegiate and professional levels while teaching young people the importance of personal development, including living a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness and nutrition.

The ANNIKA Foundation annually conducts several “Share My Passion” grass roots clinics designed to introduce kids to the game. It also conducts six major golf events for aspiring junior girls: the Hilton Grand Vacations ANNIKA Invitational presented by Rolex in the U.S.; ANNIKA Invitational Asia; ANNIKA Invitational Europe and ANNIKA Cup in Sweden; the Women’s Amateur Latin America with The R&A in Argentina; and the ANNIKA Invitational Australasia in New Zealand. Since 2014, the Foundation has annually hosted the ANNIKA Intercollegiate presented by 3M, a women’s college tournament featuring 12 top Division I schools. Moreover, with the support of the Haskins Foundation, the Foundation created the ANNIKA Award presented by Stifel, which is given annually to the best collegiate female golfer. In 2022, the ANNIKA Development Program was created to support recent college graduates pursue their dreams of playing professional golf. The Foundation is also the main beneficiary of The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican, a new tournament tradition that began on the LPGA Tour in 2023.