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If Sorenstam didn't belong, what was all the fuss about?

May 25, 2003|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

Looking back at Annika Sorenstam's two-day trial on the PGA Tour, I can't help but wonder why some of the tour players were making such a fuss.

I mean, after all, a "girl" couldn't possibly just step in to a men's tournament and compete on the same level as her male counterparts, could she?

If that was the overriding sentiment among the players, why were some of these guys so concerned about her presence at the Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas?

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If she can't compete, there's no way she would make the cut, which means she's not taking money out of anyone's pocket.

If she gains entry to a tournament through a sponsor's exemption, she's still not taking a spot from a tour regular.

And don't you think Bank Of America, the sponsor of the Colonial, has the right to invite anyone it please to its dance? After all, it is putting up the $5 million purse.

Some have argued Sorenstam - or any other female player - should have to qualify in order to play in a PGA event, as Suzy Whaley did for the Greater Hartford Open in July.

Sorry, but I think being the top women's golfer in the world the last three years - and maybe ever - is qualification enough.

I predicted Sorenstam would make the cut at the Colonial ... and if she'd have been able to sink just a couple of putts, she would have made it.

Heck, if she had only made half of her birdie chances, she could have been leading the tournament. But that's golf.

Sorenstam handled the media frenzy with grace and during most of her two rounds, she was able to keep a smile on her face. The only time it disappeared was in the middle of her second-round meltdown Friday.

She applauded the crowd on her way to the 18th green, showing her appreciation for their constant support.

She flashed another smile when her par putt fell on the 18th, even though she knew she wouldn't play the weekend.

It would have been nice to have seen Sorenstam make the cut, but her failure doesn't make her attempt any less historic.

She brought life to an otherwise humdrum PGA stop between The Masters and the U.S Open - one that few casual fans would have paid any attention to had Sorenstam not been playing.

For that, the PGA players should be thankful.

Some may be thankful that they'll no longer have to deal with the distraction of a woman playing the men's tour, but it won't last for long.

You can bet Sorenstam won't be the last to try to play with the boys. Thirteen-year-old phenom Michelle Wie has already stated her goal is to play on the PGA Tour - full time!

Suck it up and get used to it guys. The women are here to stay.

And though she didn't make the cut, Sorenstam proved that they belong.

I found it amusing that a PGA Tour promo aired in the middle of Sorenstam's round Friday - you know, the ones that say, "These guys are good."

I just chuckled and thought to myself, "Yeah, but the girl is pretty good, too."




Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2332, or by e-mail at keller@herald-mail.com

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