Thu, Feb 17, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Annika Sorenstam files for divorce after 8 years

AP , ORLANDO, FLORIDA

Annika Sorenstam, the No. 1 player in women's golf and one of the most famous female athletes in the world, has filed for divorce from her husband of eight years, Golfweek magazine reported on Tuesday.

The divorce petition was filed on Feb. 4 in Circuit Court of Orange County, not far from where Sorenstam and David Esch live in the gated community of Lake Nona. The suit has been sealed, and no other details were available.

"They're made an amicable decision to terminate the relationship," Orlando-based attorney Mayanne Downs told the magazine. "They're going to try to keep it personal and private. That's all I'm at liberty to say."

Sorenstam's agent, Mark Steinberg, was traveling in Asia and not immediately available for comment.

Sorenstam had hinted at early retirement in recent years, saying she might want to start a family.

But rumors that the marriage was rocky began last year when Esch, highly visible through his Swedish wife's career, stopped traveling as frequently. Esch began to work in real estate near their summer home in Incline, Nevada.

He was last seen at the Samsung World Championship in Palm Desert, California in October, when Sorenstam shot 67 in the final round to win.

But he was not at the season-ending ADT Championship, when Sorenstam was presented with her seventh LPGA player of the year award. Sorenstam thanked her husband in the acceptance speech, then went on to win her eighth LPGA Tour event of 2004.

Sorenstam also was at Kapalua to play in the pro-am at the US PGA Tour's season-opening Mercedes Championships last month. She spent three days on Maui with her sister, Charlotta.

Sorenstam, 34, and Esch, 35, met in 1994 at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, where Esch worked for Ping.

They got engaged at the end of 1995, after Sorenstam won the US Women's Open. They married on Jan. 4, 1997.

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