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Sorenstam has earned her shot at best

May 15, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

OK, all you male chauvinists ... give me one good reason why Annika Sorenstam's playing in The Colonial next weekend is a bad thing.

Because she's a woman.

Not only are you wrong on a sexist level, but also on a factual one. The PGA Tour is not gender-specific. It's the Professional Golfers of America Tour, not the Men's Professional Golfers of America Tour.

She's not on the same level as the men.

No, really? Wow, there's something I didn't know. Of course, the best male golfers are better than the best female golfers. Annika's already admitted that herself. She knows she's not as good as the best men. She just wants a chance to see how she measures up.

She'll embarrass herself.

This is the kind of lame excuse male golfers and writers use. The simple truth is Annika's just playing in the Colonial is a matter of great personal accomplishment and pride to her. She could go out and shoot 80-80 and still be the first woman in more than fifty years to play a PGA event. That's not an embarrassment. That's golfing history.

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She'll embarrass the LPGA Tour.

One more time, everybody ... the women who play professionally know they're not as good as the men. It's not some grandiose secret. The only people acting surprised that the women aren't equal are the men. The LPGA Tour is prepared to accept - no, it long ago accepted - that it's not as good skillwise as the PGA Tour. It's awful hard to be embarrassed by something you've already accepted. I'm going bald at age 23. I accepted it. I'm not embarrassed.

Now, if you think you can beat Annika or any other fully qualified member of the LPGA Tour, be my guest. We'll see who gets embarrassed.

The Colonial has eight sponsors exemptions. Hard-to-get exemptions. Annika's taking one is denying a deserving man the right to play.

I love how this implies Annika is somehow not deserving of this chance. She has 43 victories, is the only woman ever to earn more than $7 million in her career (this is only her 10th season, by the way) and is also the only woman in LPGA history to shoot a 59. She's by far the best female golfer on the planet. So some Joe Schmoe has his spot in a PGA event taken away by a girl once every 50-plus years. Get over it.

Let's not make this bigger than what it is. This is not some historical event in any way other than a female golfer playing with the best male golfers in the world. This is not women getting the right to vote, not women getting an equal day's pay for an equal day's work, not women earning leadership roles in politics or Fortune 500 companies.

This is one extremely talented golfer, who happens to be a she, testing her abilities the way any competitive person at the top of his/her game, whatever game it may be, would want to. This is not Annika vs. the men. Not really. This is Annika vs. herself. Annika's realized potential vs. Annika's untapped potential.

Think of it this way. I'd love to go 1-on-1 with Michael Jordan. Particularly, the Jordan of 10 years ago. It wouldn't be close. It would be a mauling. I'd be lucky to score a single point, lucky to even get off a shot. But I would always know I'd played against the best. I'd know what I could do.

That's what Annika's doing.

Really, what's wrong with that?




Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. You can reach him at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at kauffman@herald-mail.com.

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