"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, The Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) --
There is little doubt that Annika Sorenstam can give me six a side and cruise
to victory. I acknowledge that, have a white flag flapping in the wind
creating a sound akin to the applause of the gallery as she birdies the 18th,
and have no problem at all conceding defeat to the gentler and more proficient
sex. She is the female equivalent to Babe Ruth in golf. A Swedish lovely who
carded 13 tournaments around the world last year.
Annika Sorenstam will be the first woman in 58 years to play against men on
their professional tour.
But May 22nd, at the Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas may prove to be a matter of
considerable difference. The 32-year old is the first woman in 58 years to
play against men on their professional tour. This is easily the same as
spitting in the wind and there is no way that she is going to muster enough
strength to hit the spittoon on the other side of the street. The fact of the
matter is that she will probably not make the cut. Nothing gained. There will
not be any chivalry. No one will dog it or generously blow a putt so she can
show up to play again. There are no gimmes to get into the final days.
Tiger will not be there so the center of attraction will be guess who? And it
is a short tight course. Stupid she is not.
When Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Nick Price, David Toms, Vijay Singh, Justin
Leonard, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Jim Furyk and the other 117 or so that show
to tee it up trying to make the final 72, her average drive of 265.6 yards from
the tips will pale against some of their launched rockets. If Tiger were on
the scene, and that is not likely, can you imagine her being paired with him
and his interplanetary missiles?although length on the Colonial is not the
prerequisite for success.
Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods played golf together during the prime-time
Battle at Big Horn event. However, Tiger will not play at the Colonial.
On a par-70 golf course, 72 to 74 for each of the first two days will not do
it. The par 4 doglegs are to her advantage and distance will not be the
catalyst to success but, as Yogi Berra might have said, "It couldn't hoit."
And, hitting her four iron against their seven or eight with an 80 percent
average of making the green won't be that advantageous this time around. The
7,080 yards is 600-700 yards longer than the average LPGA course, but is not
daunting and the course has only two par 5's. Nice but no cigar and no
spending spree at Victoria's Secret.
What golfer on the PGA tour wants to come in second to Annika, no matter how
pretty, smart or talented she is? There is definitely a point where being a
gracious loser does not work. Bobby Riggs was over the hill when a youthful,
talented, physical, focused, passionate, exciting, and win at all costs Billie
Jean King took him to task. Might he have done better in his prime? Probably.
Was this one all for publicity and fun? Yes. Was he expected to lose? Sure.
Did he care? Nah.
Pin placement for this one will be as tough as it gets. Right over the lip of
the bunker. On the edge of that spot where anything short will roll back 30
yards and off the green. Half the hole in water with a small rubber duck
floating in it. Between the legs of a cameraman or up against the stands.
Under the chair of a spectator or in the shadow of the spruce. Easy it will
Over par last year was good enough to make the cut by four shots. Not about to
happen this time around. Just as Tiger is able to raise the level of play of
others chasing his score there will be added incentive with the addition of
Sorenstam. No one out there wants to hear, "You gotta be kidding me! She
beat you? You're thinking of asking for a special exemption to hit from the
white tees next week? How about the reds?"
Drive for play and putt for pay will take on a new meaning for the Colonial.
All will be driving with an eye on Sorenstam and her score. She is supposed to
miss the cut. She is supposed to wilt. She is an odds-on favorite to prove
that there is a line between the sexes that transcends the idiocy at Augusta.
It cuts deeper (no pun intended). All that will be gained is affirmation
that women play at a different level than the men. That is not to take away
from their abilities, from their talents on the course. But, they can also
toss a basketball through the hoop, put the puck in the net, kick the ball
between the uprights, windmill a softball to the catcher before your bat leaves
your shoulder or gobble up a hot shot at shortstop.
A general view of the 18th hole during the final round of last year's event at
Colonial C.C. in Ft. Worth, Texas.
They cannot go head to head with the men, not here, not there, not soccer,
tennis, swimming, skiing, sailing, kayaking, running, pole vaulting or much
else. Outdo them in figure skating? This is possible. Better on the balance
beam? You bet. Show them up on floor exercises? Got my vote. However, in
most cases, it's not about to happen. It is the nature of things.
Golf has a line down the center of it? women to the left, men to the right and
the twain are not about to meet on the fairways of Colonial. The other side of
the coin says that Annika is not supposed to win, not supposed to be
competitive (with some rare exceptions) and just wants to be out there
establishing a rivalry, making a point and vying for status. Equality on the
links is not about to happen. Nothing to prove, nothing to win.
Has anyone checked the LPGA rules recently about men competing with them on
Only females (at birth) may go through LPGA Q-School to become members of the
LPGA. Also, under Tournament Regulations and tournament contracts, sponsor's
exemptions may only be granted to females (at birth), and Monday qualifiers are
open only to LPGA Tour members, sponsor's exemptions, and certain members of
the Teaching and Club Professional (T&CP) Division, who also must be female (at
birth). In essence. the USGA says that you must be born female to play in any
women?s event. Interpretation is not very open here. How many guys do you
know that are pregnant these days, pauses aside? I am all for what the women
are trying to accomplish at Augusta but talk about discrimination! I guess
that the "females at birth" category eliminates, quite clearly, anyone that
goes through an operation that comes with thongs and bras as going away
presents following recuperation.
Those who will not be playing the Colonial might be breathing a sigh of relief
right now but they will be watching with hands on cell phones to contact anyone
that they know whose score is behind hers. Any guy that loses to her will have
to purchase a year's subscription to all of the Lanc?me products in the
catalogue. Fredericks of Hollywood will do their wardrobe. Jay Leno and
David Letterman will be relentless in castigating them. Dennis Miller will
rant and rave with glee. George Carlin will be merciless.
If the Queen of England showed up to play she would not be treated better than
Sorenstam upon her arrival at Colonial. Four bearers are not out of the
question, limo, super accommodations, no waiting in line for food or at the
ladies room, a locker room with only one occupant and more cameramen following
you than if you had Julia Roberts as your caddy? which might not be a bad idea.
She has to wear shorts. She must wear them. It is expected, desired, sought
after, and demanded. That is why she will go to the slacks. Major
disappointment. If she is granted that, do the men follow suit and start
making inquiry about their attire for the next tour stop? I think not.
Decorum, modesty and pressure will win out. Slacks. Form fitting? Wishful
There is nothing to gain here and much to lose if Annika embarrasses herself.
She might play well and all will attest that she is as good as her records
indicate. If she does not, the smirks, giggles and snickers will be heard
coast to coast. If Annika wants to test herself, let her go out and play
Colonial on a nice day and then turn her score in?and another day, and another
It was 1954 in Los Angeles when Babe Didrickson Zaharias qualified for and
played in the Open. She made the cut but shot a 79 in the third round and was
eliminated. Susan Whaley, a club pro from Connecticut qualified to play in the
Greater Hartford Open in July last year. Now it is Sorenstam. Does she really
have a shot at winning, of being competitive? Is this just a giant public
relations ploy to replace the absence of Tiger for this stop on the tour? Is
the network loving it? Are ratings about to go up? Will we see a new group of
advertisers gracing our screens at home? Is this a trend-setting step in golf?
You gotta be kidding!