Gut Rumbles

May 22, 2003

annika sorenstam

Personally, I believe that the whole thing was a good publicity move by the Colonial Open when they invited Annika, indisputably the top female golfer in the world today, to play in that tournament. I've really been surprised by some of the negative reaction that followed, especially from the men on the PGA tour.

I used to play a lot of golf and became fairly accomplished at the game. I broke 80 a lot. I shot even par for eighteen holes once, and twice shot three-under for nine holes. I made a hole-in-one and got my name in the Savannah Morning News for it.

For those who play golf, you know where that put me in the weekend-golfer ecosystem. For those who DON'T play golf, just call me a "Higher Being." I could beat nine out of ten people I met on the course.

But I was nowhere NEAR being PGA tour caliber. Those guys are the best of the best and they play on courses set up to make the game as difficult as possible. They don't play the same game I did.

I really proud of shooting 81 at Harbortown, where The Heritage is played. The wind was blowing hard off the sound that day and I had never seen the course before, except on television. If I had putted better, I would have broken 80 that day, too. But I played from the back "member's tees." On almost every hole, I could look up to 50 yards behind me to see where the pros hit from. If I had played from THERE, I would have struggled to break 100.

The women pros don't play the same game as the men. They play on shorter courses, softer greens and easier layouts. Annika may be the best in her world, but she can't muscle the ball and hit it as far or with as much spin as Tiger Woods or Ernie Els can. The top 20 male golfers would beat her like a drum every time out on a golf course set up for a PGA tournament.

But Annika shot one over par today, and beat a LOT of the men. She's about halfway down the leaderboard. She stands a good chance of making the cut.

I don't want to get into any kind of Title IX, women's lib bullshit here, and I damn sure don't want any idiots saying that men should be allowed on the LPGA tour now. I like it more as a "Little Engine That Could" story.

Annika won't win the tournament. She's a GIRL, and she simply can't compete with the men and WIN. You see, she has to play by the same rules as everyone else, and there won't be any "gender-norming" or relaxed standards for her. If she can't do it by the men's rules, they'll chop her ass in tomorrow's cut just like anyone else who couldn't get the job done.

That's a good thing.

And if she makes the cut and draws a paycheck on Sunday, that's a good thing, too. She did it by the rules that everyone else plays by. She did it without government set-asides and affirmative action. She did it on her own.

That's bound to piss liberals off if she plays well. The underdog isn't capable of achieving ANYTHING without their help.


And if she makes the cut and draws a paycheck on Sunday, that's a good thing, too. She did it by the rules that everyone else plays by.

Which is all that really matters.

Posted by: McGehee on May 22, 2003 05:35 PM

You guys are right. Brilliant stroke by the Colonial folks, by the way, especially if she makes the cut. Personally, I'd like to see her smoke a little twat like Parnevik. Flip that frigging hat brim down when she's finished.

Posted by: Velociman on May 22, 2003 06:28 PM

Except that she got a sponsor's exemption instead of qualifying. . .and she got a sponsor's exemption because it makes good publicity and because she's Annika Sorenstam. . .she got to pick and choose a tournament that fit her game (short and straight, not a particularly good putter) which isn't how the PGA tour works normally nor the real world for that matter. . .I'm all for her being out there. . .but she's there because of her name. . .and that's a handout if I've ever heard of one. . .

Posted by: Brett on May 22, 2003 09:29 PM

It's bullshit. The guy's place she took might have won the tournament and set himself up. Remember John Daly, first alternate at the PGA who won the damn thing? That might have happened this week.

And I know you don't want to go there, but if we're going to open the thing up, let's do it properly and let men compete in the LPGA. Only about three women will earn any money at all.

And I was once a 9-handicap, so I know a little about this shit.

By the way, Acid, if you think the Harbor Town pro tees are long, you should try playing the Gold Tees at Sun City, S. Africa. I'm not a long driver, never was -- but my buddy Knob could hit the ball a MILE, and he never made the fairway once, not by ten yards, when he played a pro-am there.

Posted by: Kim du Toit on May 22, 2003 10:00 PM

I always wondered what, exactly, would be wrong with having an A league and a B league? A league would be like the PGA is now, with the best of the best, and the B league would be like the LPGA with the really-dam-fine players working their way up. No silly gender, height, natural hair color, or planet of origin questions; just here is the yardage, there is the hole, can you do it or not?

Oh, and if someone's delicate sensibilities are threatened by getting bested by a *girl* (or a redhead...); don't call a press conference, call a therapist.

Posted by: Claire on May 23, 2003 02:57 AM

Kim, sponsor exemptions are common on tour. Would you say Arnie or Jack doesn't deserve to play because they bumped the potential winner? Annika is approaching their stature in women's golf. She beat about 40 guys yesterday. Maybe one of them doesn't deserve to be there.

Smart of the Colonial. Good for pro golf.

7 HC til I totalled my car two years ago.

Posted by: Larry on May 23, 2003 07:41 AM

I don't really give a good goddamn about Sorenstam, but I do think this is a silly stunt. At Clubbeaux's blog, he made a good point about how no matter what she shoots, she can't lose. I'm paraphrasing, but -

If she makes the cut, it proves womyn are the equal of men in all ways, and any attempt to keep others off the PGA tour is the act of misogynistic, bitter little men. If she doesn't make the cut, it's because of all the publicity, and she really couldn't concentrate on the game, and she's still a heroine and this is a Glorious Day for Womynkind.

And, if she drives 70 yards off every tee, lands in the bunkers on her approach shots ten out of ten times, twelve-putts on every hole, has to be pointed in the direction of the cup and shoots quadruple-Chinese-bogey on every hole. . .well, its a sad commentary on how womyn are still oppressed by the male golfing establishment.

And my handicap is a joke - always was, always will be. I love the game, though.

Posted by: Ripper on May 23, 2003 11:15 AM

I thought the same thing about the sponsor exemption when Vijay Singh ran his mouth. Then, after I thought about it a while, I realized that the tournaments routinely use sponsor exemptions for publicity. (i.e. get Arnie or Jack in your tournament, if they're interested.) So why should the Colonial be held to a different standard? They had *four times* as many media credentials as they usually do. Annika's press conference had *six* *hundred* reporters. Nick Price, the defending champion, had 150 at his. Price was correct, of course, when he said this "reeks of publicity". What does he expect? The PGA tour and network television grew up together. He benefits from the publicity as much as the rest of them do. (He might benefit more if he hadn't shot the same number she did, though...)

Furthermore, she proved she belongs. I have no doubt she can learn to putt better if she's presented with pin placements like she saw yesterday more often (PGA tour pins are much, much more evil than LPGA ones, and greens are faster), so there's no reason she couldn't have shot in the 60's if she putted like most people expected her to. Of course, it remains to be seen whether she can always hit 13 out of 14 fairways hitting drivers when the men are hitting irons to stay between the trees. She sure did it yesterday, though.

I mean, Tiger Woods got in his first tournament as a pro on a sponsor's exemption too--he didn't go to Q-School. And he already had a Nike contract, so he didn't need the money. He could have sat around, built up anticipation, and gone to Q-School in the fall. He took that spot from some grinder just like Annika did. As George Carlin says, let's not have two standards here, one will do just fine.

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