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Annika Sorenstam enjoys being outside 'little golf bubble'

When Annika Sorenstam retired from professional golf in 2008, her first order of business was not to find the nearest rocking chair.

Or the second. Or the third.

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Sorenstam, 44, has two children, Ava, 5, and William, 3, and myriad business interests to keep her moving. Those ventures include helping design golf courses overseas, a clothing line, providing financial services for athletes and a youth foundation.

Then there is the Annika Sorenstam Golf Academy at Reunion Resort, site of the Annika Invitational junior girls tournament Friday-Monday.

The LPGA Hall of Famer spoke this week about her playing career, whether she ever doubted retiring from competition and where her priorities are today.

Orlando Sentinel: Do junior golfers ask you about your time on the LPGA Tour?

Annika Sorenstam: "They know I played. I share my knowledge but really to relate it to more where they are as an amateur, and some of them are thinking about college. How do you prepare for the future and finding a balance between friendship, family, school and sports? Many of them have aspirations about being professionals down the road, so [they ask] what it is like to travel, play golf for a living and so forth.''

OS: What is it like?

AS: "I recommend it. It's a lot of fun, but it is hard work. It's a big commitment and a lot of sacrifices to play at the very top. It's very competitive, traveling and being away from home.

"When you play college, it's a team environment. When you're a professional, it's really just you and maybe your caddie. Some of them ask, 'How do you get a sponsor? What's it like to have a caddie?'' They are like sponges. They want to know everything. ''

OS: How much do you miss playing professionally?

AS: "I really don't. I'm so busy doing other things. I did it for so long, and I achieved what I wanted to achieve. I really feel like I gave it my all. It was more than I ever thought I could. I left at a time when I was very comfortable.''

OS: Did you ever second-guess your decision?

AS: "Not really. I was never forced to do it. I didn't have the desire. I didn't have the excitement. I didn't have the hunger, which is what you need to be at the top. You realize there are some other things that you want to do. The only way to do that was to stop what I was doing and start a new chapter in my life.

"I am just glad I did it. I was living in my little golf bubble. All you do is practice, compete and travel. You live by shots and you live by tournaments, then you slip away and realize there are some other fun things to do.''

OS: What feeds your competitive juices now?

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AS: "I do have my business. I am still competitive. Some things in your nature don't go away. I want to be successful here. What's relative to this weekend and the foundation, I want to make an impact. It's not a race, but I want to be successful, meaning: How many girls can we influence? How many girls can play in our tournaments? How many tournaments can we have and be successful?

"You come from being the best in the world and having a lot of confidence. At times, you probably think you are invincible. You come out in the business world, and especially in 2008, you realize you have a lot to learn.''

OS: How often do you play golf?

AS: "I don't play very much. I probably could take the time to do it, but it is not on my wish list. I still work within golf. I still do corporate outings and charity events. Nowadays, it is more about talking and sharing your experiences, like I do with the girls.

"It's not so much where the ball is going. It's more about what the game has to offer and a few pointers.''

OS: How have you changed since you retired from pro golf?

AS: "My perspective is broader and not so central about competing. Being a mom is probably the biggest change. It's about your kids and their well-being and just being there for them. All the things that test you on the golf course, I believe you get tested as a mother: patience and focus and determination and consistency and all the things that make good qualities for a parent.

"There are just different things that come up on your radar than there used to be.''

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