Volume 97, Issue 1
Thursday, May 22, 2003

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Annika is just taking up space

Under review
Ian Denomme
Sports Editor

Following in the footsteps of women's sports "pioneers" such as Babe Zaharias, Billie Jean King and Manon Rheaume, Annika Sorenstam is taking her game to the PGA Tour.

All eyes will be on Sorenstam at the Colonial this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, where she will be the first woman to play in a men's golf event in 58 years.

There's a heated debate going on in the golfing world about whether she belongs in a men's event.

The biggest problem with her being there is how she got in. She didn't qualify like the rest of the field. She received a sponsor's exemption – a free ride into a prestigious men's event.

Sorenstam is currently second on the LPGA money list with over $500,000 in winnings, in only five events. Yet, she is taking the place of a man who's fighting to make a living and fighting to stay on the pro tour.

It seems as if the entire event is simply a publicity stunt. Somebody is trying to make money off her appearance, whether it's Sorenstam herself or the sponsors.

The significance of this event is already having a ripple effect on the rest of the golf world. Last week, 13-year-old Michelle Wie accepted a sponsors exemption to play in the Boise Open, becoming the first female to play on the Nationwide Tour, a PGA developmental tour.

In July, Suzy Whaley will play in the Greater Hartford Open, although she won a qualifying tournament to receive her bid.

Furthermore, Sorenstam's controversial appearance may not be as good for women's golf as some experts think. She is hands down the best woman golfer in the world, – this is supposed to be a test to see how she stacks up against the men.

If she plays well, it will be great for women's golf. However, if she plays poorly and misses the cut it will give women's golf a black eye from which it may never recover.

Sorenstam doesn't belong on the PGA Tour. By playing in this tournament she's raising awareness of women's golf, but doing it the wrong way. If she wants to prove that she really belongs with the men, she should qualify the same way all the other men do.


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