Kline receives Ginn Tribute sponsor's exemption

Updated: January 30, 2007, 6:15 PM ET
Associated Press

MT. PLEASANT, S.C. -- Annika Sorenstam invited a talented teen golfer with a rare heart condition to help launch her tournament.

Sorenstam awarded a sponsor's exemption to 14-year-old MacKinzie Kline for the $2.6 million Ginn Tribute, hosted by Sorenstam from May 31-June 3.

Kline, of Encinitas, Calif., is one of the top-rated junior golfers in the country. She'll play on the Arnold Palmer-designed RiverTowne Country Club Course at the Belvidere Resort.

Because of her medical condition, Kline can't walk long distances without becoming fatigued. The LPGA issued a landmark ruling allowing Kline to become the first player in the organization's history to ride a cart during her rounds. Kline, who'll also have oxygen at her disposal, was born without a spleen and a heart that has only one ventricle.

She underwent open-heart surgery twice before she was 2. In 2005, doctors repaired a hole in her heart and found a blood clot above the valve of her single ventricle.

"MacKinzie is a very unique and determined young lady and we are thrilled to have her play in the Ginn Tribute," Sorenstam said. "What she has accomplished, not only in golf but for the community, is extraordinary."

Kline qualified for the U.S. Women's amateur but had to decline because she couldn't walk 18 holes.

"This is a dream come true for me," Kline said. "I've always had the dream to play on the LPGA Tour and Annika has made this a reality for me. Words cannot express my appreciation for this honor."

Kline's community service work raised awareness of her condition. At 10, she became the national spokesman for the Children's Heart Foundation. She set a goal to raise $1 million for the organization, which recently reached the $725,000 mark. Sorenstam's tournament will make a donation toward the project.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press