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As a player Annika Sorenstam was defined by her relentless drive to excel, so it should come as no surprise that she has brought the same single-minded focus to life after golf. After Sorenstam, 40, stepped away from the competitive arena at the end of 2008—"We never use the r word," says her publicist, Liz McCollum, referring to retirement—one of the first items on her to-do list was to marry Mike McGee, the amiable son of former PGA Tour player Jerry McGee. On the morning of the wedding, Sorenstam scheduled a board meeting for her eponymous charitable foundation, since all the directors were gathered in one place. "We told her we'd do it only if she promised not to show up," says Charles Mechem, the former LPGA commissioner and a longtime mentor. With a chuckle, he adds, "I'm sure that was hard for her." In September 2009 daughter Ava arrived. Thirty minutes after giving birth, Sorenstam e-mailed Don Ochsenreiter, president of the Annika Foundation. "And it was about business, not the baby," Ochsenreiter says.
On March 22 of this year William Sorenstam arrived 13 weeks premature. While he was incubating in neonatal intensive care, Annika was getting up every day at 2 a.m. to use a breast pump. Her staff became accustomed to waking to a flurry of e-mails that had been sent in the middle of the night. "What can I say?" Sorenstam says with a laugh. "That's been my thinking time." Ever since a healthy Will came home in May, his mom says she has only become more productive. "A lot of driving back and forth to the hospital to see him has been eliminated."
Says Sorenstam's sister, Charlotta, a former LPGA player who now works as an instructor at the Annika Academy in Orlando, "I sometimes think her phone is actually attached to her fingers."
Annika's 72 LPGA victories and 10 major championships give her a strong case as the greatest female player of all time, but she had little trouble walking away from the game. After owning the sport for so long, she was ready for other challenges. Mechem recalls a conversation about a year after she left the game: "We were talking on the phone, and there was a tournament on in the background. I said, 'Do you miss it?' She said, 'If I could be dropped by helicopter into the final fairway tied for the lead, I would do that every Sunday. I miss that feeling. But everything it takes to get to that moment? I don't miss that at all. It's nice to have a well-rounded life now.'"
Except for corporate outings and special events, Sorenstam hardly touches a club anymore. "She has zero interest in playing casual golf," McGee says. "It doesn't even occur to her. What drove her wasn't necessarily playing the game. It was being the best."
Over the last 3½ years Sorenstam has brought that same zeal to her business and philanthropic endeavors. She talks admiringly of Greg Norman's brand-building and is similarly trying to sell not merely products but also an entire luxe lifestyle. Sorenstam still has endorsement deals with long-standing sponsors Rolex, Lexus, Callaway and Oakley, but in retirement—yeah, we said it—she has added Ritz-Carlton Destination Club as well as Lipton and ADP. She has her own perfume, clothing line and wine label. She loves to cook and is passionate about nutrition, so of course she has her own cookbook. Her course-design firm has built two courses that are open for play (in China and South Africa), four more are in various stages of development, and she and Jack Nicklaus want to codesign and build the 2016 Olympics course in Brazil. A longtime stock-market maven and savvy real estate investor, Sorenstam has founded a boutique financial services company geared toward athletes. Fifteen employees and 3,000 square feet of office space keep the various enterprises humming. Annika and her family live in Lake Nona, about two miles from the office, in a big house with its own lake. She sometimes walks to work, pushing a stroller.
Sorenstam could be taking it easy, but that's not her style. "My competitive drive has not disappeared," she says. "I want to succeed in everything I do. If a woman buys one of my shirts, I want her to love it. I want it to be her favorite shirt. And if it's not, I want to know why."
McGee, a former agent who now oversees all of his wife's business dealings, shares this passion and deserves much of the credit for Annika's one-name omnipresence. "We never use her last name," McGee says. "My friends like to bust my chops and call me Mr. Sorenstam, which I totally deserve. I simply say, 'Please—call me Mr. Annika.'"
Mr. and Mrs. Annika are an affectionate couple with an easygoing chemistry. For his part, McGee is comfortable with the relationship's untraditional dynamics. "She's my boss literally and figuratively," he says. "It works for us because I have so much respect for her. I see other couples at dinner, and they have nothing to talk about. That's not us—there's always something going on."
Among Sorenstam's many business ventures, the one that's dearest to her is the academy, at Orlando's Reunion Resort. Annika oversaw every detail to make the place feel spalike and enveloping. One-hour lessons are offered, but the quintessential experience is a three-day stay for which guests pay $10,000 to be infused with the essence of Annika. This includes swing lessons from her lifelong instructor, Henri Reis, and gym work with Kai Fusser, the man who transformed her into a buff power player, as well as an advanced club-fitting and discussions about course management and nutrition. Annika has lunch with guests and plays nine holes with them. "We're not a swing factory," she says. "It's a holistic approach to becoming a better player. We also try to have fun. There's a lot of pampering involved."