Now the thing is, though I don't go around talking about it, I'm not a huge Annika fan either. Never have been, and the reason I so wanted to see her on the show is that I had begun to think that maybe I had missed something... like the star quality that other golf writers seemed to be seeing, especially in these last 24 hours, since she announced her retirement.
Of course I realize Annika is the Best Woman Golfer ever, and I know she gives generously to great charities, I've heard she's exceptionally kind as well, but I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about personality. The kind of personality that transcends golf.
So after sitting through Mr. Letterman's monologue, and his banter with the bald guy who conducts the band, I was ready to be charmed by "the other Annika", the warm, bubbly Annika I had missed till now; Well needless to say, that Annika didn't show.
The one and only Annika was there, and her job was to read the Top Ten list, in this case, the "Top Ten Reasons Annika Sorenstam is Retiring". Her performance confirmed what I always thought: that despite her brilliance on the golf course, off of it, Annika is actually
You could tell that Annika was happy to get off the stage, which she did as soon as she finished with the list, and happy to let the spotlight shine on someone else. I had told a few of my non-golfing friends to watch... folks who may have heard her name, but didn't know much beyond that... and each one called afterwards and asked how such a withdrawn girl could be a huge star. As I say, these people knew nothing of golf.
And therein lies my point. I don't believe that Annika's appeal transcends golf. Without an appreciation of her excellence on the course, I don't think one would ever remember her.
Bay Area sports writer Monte Poole wrote an article today lamenting the fact that Danica Patrick, Allison Stoke and the perennial Anna Kornikova all have a popular culture transcendancy far beyond Annika Sorenstam's, and suggesting that our culture is wrong to value sex appeal over true talent. Well the culture may well be wrong...it may be low brow and superficial, especially where woman athletes are concerned...but it is what it is, and unlike the ladies mentioned above, Annika has always refused to play the glamour game, thus remaining almost invisible once off the golf course.
There's one particular thing Mr Poole writes about Annika that I absolutely don't agree with: "If she were blessed with the looks of Natalie Gulbis or Anna Rawson, Sorenstam would be a household name." I argue that Annika was, in fact, blessed with their good looks, but simply chose to focus on golf and forget the glitz. Annika never felt compelled to wear make-up or false eyelashes or cute clothes on the course. Appealing to the media... and to pop culture fans like me... was never a priority for her. Annika was always all about the game, and all about winning. That was her decision, and as she prepares for her retirement, I'm inclined to think she's not having any second thoughts about it.