Volume 97, Issue 1
Thursday, May 22, 2003

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Give Sorenstam a shot

What the Shuk?
Mark Polishuk
Opinions Editor

Some of the PGA Tour's biggest names are complaining because Annika Sorenstam is playing in the Colonial Tournament. It "reeks of a publicity stunt," wails Nick Price. She "has her own tour," cries Vijay Singh.

In the immortal words of Justin Timberlake, "cry me a river".

Who is hurt by Sorenstam playing? Certainly not the PGA Tour nor the Colonial, as TV ratings and ticket sales will be sky-high for the weekend. The only thing that might be hurt are the egos of the pros that can't bear to consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, Sorenstam can beat them.

Singh makes the point that women have the LPGA Tour, but while that organization is specifically for women, there's no rule that bans women from playing on the PGA Tour. Mildred "Babe" Zaharias, one of the great all-around athletes of the 20th century, often played in men's tournaments and exhibition matches back in the 1940's.

Price's beef is that instead of qualifying for the tourney, Sorenstam was given one of a few sponsor exemptions available at every PGA tournament. I think I can speak for most golf fans when I say that I'd rather see Sorenstam in the field than one of the rookies, no-names or has-beens that usually get exemptions.

Consider this scenario: what if the Colonial organizers had given an exemption to the legendary Arnold Palmer? Since Palmer is over 70 years old and hasn't been competitive (or even broken par) in over a decade, couldn't this be considered a "publicity stunt"? Yet nobody would bat an eye if Palmer were given a special invite, whereas the best female golfer in the world is somehow less worthy.

People say that Sorenstam won't be able to compete because she can't hit the ball 300 yards like the average Tour pro, but length isn't everything in golf. Mike Weir isn't one of the big hitters in the game, yet he's done pretty well for himself.

Nobody knows if Sorenstam will contend for the title, make the cut or maybe bogey every hole. It's probably true that most female golfers couldn't compete on the PGA Tour, but Sorenstam isn't your average woman golfer. Whether she ends up competing or not, she at least deserves her shot.


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