Annika Sorenstam's performance Saturday with a birdie to halve a skin and then a
spectacular hole out of a long bunker shot and an eagle on the final hole and
$175,000 to take the early lead in the Skin's game just adds credence to
Colonial's (and the PGA Tour's) decision to let her play there this past
Sure there was controversy about it and justly so. Obviously a ratings
booster for the Skins Game, she put on a good show yesterday. Just like
she did at Colonial. Playing at the Colonial was never about beating the
men. It was a personal test or if you will have it, challenge for her to
find out, 'Could she compete against the men?' After her performance at
Colonial, Annika said she thought if she played the tour full time that she
thought she had the skills to finish top 125 on the money list! Can you
imagine the nerve (my tongue in cheek!) Well, it may have been only one shot she
made but it's also another shot for golf, women's golf, and controversy!
Update: May, 23, 2003.
There's a "whole' lotta' crow'" being eaten somewhere over there around the
Colonial Invitational golf tournament this morning. This caddy tries not
to 'kiss and tell' or exploit the inside family business of the PGA Tour and
it's players. I've never been much of a fan of that sort of thing.
And, when I give you my inside 'opinion' about something, it's also with an
attempt to base that opinion around some substantial facts.
For the last couple of months I kept hearing about how Annika would play this
week at Colonial. You see, we hang out at 'Caddy Central' our traveling
tour van and restaurant primarily for the caddies but just as frequented by the
players today as well, each week on the PGA Tour. It's a place for us to
ventilate after a round, have some lunch or breakfast, and commiserate amongst
one another (outside the scrutiny of the press and viewing public.
majority opinion of tour players I heard over the last couple of months, (maybe
these were just the most vocal opinions), said, Annika had 'No Chance' to make
the cut, and their two friends, 'Slim and None', to break 75 any one day there
at Colonial. And the implication thereafter was also that this was a
wasted exemption, basically a publicity stunt, and why are they using (abusing)
Speaking as 'experts' I listened attentively to their reasons, -'She hits it too
short', 'The greens are too small and hard', etc., etc. -a myriad of
reasons why any chance of realistic success for her were already 'doomed' before
even the first shot was fired.
though in yesterdays first round, she did have a lot of long putts due to the
length of her second shots into the greens, which we all knew would be a
disadvantage with her length off the tee. (Although she hits it farther
than the 'experts' said she would). This gave her fewer realistic birdie chances
than the longer hitting men ordinarily would gain from such a good ball striking
round as Annika's was yesterday.
Boy but were 'They' wrong! And what class she evoked in handling the
pressure this week!
I'm thinking back to Michelle Wie at Honolulu this year when she played in the
Monday (men's tour qualifier) for four spots to play in the Hawaiian Open in
January. Michelle, at 13 years of age, out drove her playing partners
(both men) about 5 or 6 times that day at Oahu CC.
Michelle contended at the LPGA's first major thereafter, shooting 66 on
Saturday, and a final pairing on Sunday within a couple shots of the lead.
(She shot 76 on Sunday)
what she learned from that experience! At 13!? All I've heard Annika
say this week is, 'The worst that can happen is that I'll learn
something'. I remember and watched Tiger Woods elevation into the game the
same way, and always hear from psychologists, and sports experts, that he is a
highly successful great athletes, both men and women, are constantly challenging
themselves to take risks to get better, test themselves, and move on to the next
level. Annika like, Tiger is a great example of that. And she's now
blazed a path for the next big break through, in the world of professional golf
-'A woman one day winning a men's golf tournament'! Can you imagine such a
thing? Now I can!
at 13, says she wants to play half the time on the ladies tour, and the other
half, on the men's tour! One reason is because she hits it so far, they'll
have to remake all the layouts on the LPGA Tour -Michelle hit pitching wedges
into most of the par fours she played at the Dinah Shore -and that makes it too
easy for her.
very same reason Annika can't win this week, is the difference in length and the
disadvantage from the second shot into the greens -against the men hitting more
scoring clubs with soft high shots into those tightly tucked pins on the men's
tour. She just can't get enough opportunities to make birdies to win this
with Michelle. In four or five years. A more even playing field
arises. A quick learner, with that special 'Eye of the Tiger'. Watch
out folks. You'll be hearing a lot about this girl.
Yes I think Annika has shown us all already, regardless of how she plays today,
what is possible. And what class! And her 'exemption' now smells
very much like a rose. Go girl!
May, 19, 2003.
All the 'hoopla' this year is about Annika Sorenstam and the 'exemption' to play
and compete against the men at this week's Colonial Invitational Golf
There is a general feeling amongst the players and caddies that this was not the
place to give it to her. Why? Forget the fact that she's a woman
playing in a men's tour event. Forget whether or not she makes the
cut. Forget the fact that women still don't compete with men on an even
playing field in America -though it has come a long way in the last 25 years.
And give up the idea, that someone who hits it shorter has an 'equal' chance
against even the average lengthen driver on the men's tour!
we all recognize that it's good for the sport and the game of golf for the
attention it will bring here this week. But it was an unnecessary 'ploy' by the
tournament director and sponsor as well as the commissioner of golf this
week to hold it at Colonial and to 'exploit' an already strong and rich
didn't the PGA Tour and the current commissioner of golf, Tim Finchem, exercise
more forethought about this though? There are plenty of more appropriate
lower profile tournaments who could have used the publicity to their advantage.
For instance the B.C. Open played in July, who's supported the PGA Tour for a
quarter of a century now in a weak position against the British
They could have used the shot in the arm, Annika could have played there in an
'off' week against the weakly televised British Open. The caddies
and player's of the PGA Tour know well that those 'weak' field events still host low scoring, a
high level of competition, and quality golfing value. Plus there wouldn't have
been all the dissent to her playing in an event like that later in the year.
You see, the issue here amongst the players on tour is that this is a small
field invitational event. You must be top 70 on this years money list by
such and such a date. You must be a tournament winner in 2002...etc,
etc. Giving her a spot here only takes one away from someone who's earned
his way to play in the tournament. This is at the core of the dissent against her
competing this week. And, it's not Annika's fault.
And, Vijay Singh's comments were exactly what they all needed (wanted) to hear. A big
strong virile male athlete bashing a champion women's athlete! Exactly
what they needed. Now all the attention? Can you imagine what
they'll make off of all of this?
With regard to Finchem not stepping up to the plate about these complaints by
his 'people', in this case, and allowing her exemption to take away an earned opportunity from a PGA Tour member,
that will only benefit an already rich -the Colonial Invitational Golf
Tournament($) and it's new corporate sponsor -Bank of America($), CBS Sports($$),
and the PGA Tour($$$)!
I'd love to see her do well. Imagine the pressure she'll be feeling on the
#1 tee about to hit that first shot in an 'all or nothing' 'opportunity'!
Put yourself in her shoes. Think you could even pull it back on that first
tee on Thursday!?
Do you think maybe Vijay withdrew to open up that one spot!? (The next
alternate who got in as a result theoretically fills the one taken by Annika's
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