A young girl approaches the legend at a clinic early in the new “Becoming ANNIKA” documentary and asks if she has any tips for competing against boys.
“Yes, you know you can beat them, right?” Sorenstam remarked, bending down to eye level. You’re aware of this. Defeat the opposition. “Be tenacious.”
Perhaps one day that youngster will realize the significance of that encounter. The new film, created by NBC Sports in collaboration with the USGA, will premiere on Golf Channel on May 10 at 9 p.m. ET.
World Golf Hall of Famers Laura Davies, Juli Inkster, and Nancy Lopez, as well as two-time major champion Dottie Pepper, former caddie Terry McNamara, USGA CEO Mike Whan, and longtime journalist Ron Sirak, who chronicled Sorenstam’s LPGA career more fully than anyone else, provide insight.
And then there’s Sorenstam’s family: her adoring husband Mike McGee, her parents Tom and Gunilla, children Will and Ava, and sister Charlotta all contribute to the story of the 10-time major champion.
“It’s a little odd watching a movie about oneself,” said Sorenstam, who saw the film for the first time with her husband at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines, North Carolina, last month during media day for the US Women’s Open.
“It’s fascinating to hear other people’s viewpoints.” Of course, I’ve spoken with my caddy numerous times and with my children on a daily basis, but for them to speak while I’m not around, the film captures everything nicely.”
The film was started by Emmy Award-winning director Adrienne Gallagher at the 2021 U.S. Senior Women’s Open, which was won by Sorenstam. The crew spent ten days in Sweden in January filming where Sorenstam got her start in the sport and learning more about the culture that inspired her.
The documentary examines not only what made Sorenstam a champion, but also how she was viewed by her contemporaries.
“It’s a shame that the players don’t believe that’s a positive thing when you’re winning a lot,” Lopez remarked. “I believe that women can be harsh on other women at times.”
Sorenstam admitted that she was aware of a lot of noise in the changing area, as well as whispers behind her back. Charlotta put it down to jealousy.
“It’s a harsh statement, but you don’t get taller by chopping off someone else’s head,” Sorenstam stated in the movie. “I told myself straight up that I’m not here to make the most friends; I’m here to maximize my career.”
Gallagher believes that working with an all-female production crew for the film helped Sorenstam open up about her divorce from David Esch.
“Dreams may be costly,” Gallagher added. “The concept that she was doing so much in her professional life but still feeling profoundly empty.”
One of the most moving scenes in the film is about Sorenstam’s son Will, who was born 27 weeks early. Will’s love for his mother and the game was a major factor in his decision to compete in this year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles.
On Sunday, June 5, “Becoming ANNIKA” will air on NBC before the U.S. Women’s Open final round coverage.