Annika Joins the Boys’ Club

EDDIE ALVAREZ
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Two weeks ago, much of America was captivated by the Bank of America Colonial golf tournament, which was a surprise because no one ever watches golf when Tiger Woods isn’t playing.

But when Annika Sorenstam announced that she would leave the LPGA for a week and play in the PGA event, the tournament was on many people’s schedule of things to watch.

The LPGA would be sending its best golfer to play against the men in what could have been one of the most historic moments in women’s sports since Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs at the Astrodome.

Sorenstam was at the center of a media blitz that lasted more than two weeks. Even though she has 44 career LPGA wins, after her win on Sunday, she should have not been allowed to play at the Colonial.

Not because she is a woman, but because she did not earn a spot on the tour. However, she was granted a corporate sponsorship, which grants her the right to play in the tournament. This, in my eyes, is wrong. All that did was take a spot from someone else who deserves it.

Sorenstam has done a great job publicizing the LPGA and giving the tour a much-needed lift. She is winning tournaments at a pace that puts her right along with the great names in golf such as Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan. But the only difference is that they earned their way on to the tour.

They spent the time going through qualifying school winning the tournaments out in the middle of nowhere to get the exclusive PGA tour card.

I believe the LPGA’s leading money maker is a great golfer, but until she does it the right way, she should not be allowed to play on tour.
This situation is similar to that involving Michael Jordan about eight years ago. After he retired from basketball, he decided he wanted to play baseball.

Even though Jordan had a love for the game, he was a horrible baseball player.

The Chicago White Sox decided to give him a shot in their Double AA organization, but that turned out to be a huge mistake.

Jordan should have never stepped onto the baseball field in the first place, but that’s a whole different column. Jordan barely hit above the Mendoza line, hitting .202 for the season.

But more important, he took a spot from a youngster who could have been playing outfield for that team.

Jordan is the greatest player ever to shoot a jump shot, but he didn’t earn his right to play baseball.

This is the same with Sorenstam. She is the greatest woman ever to hit a golf ball, but she doesn’t deserve to be on the PGA tour – yet.

But if Sorenstam decides that she wants to go through Q-school, which she would pass, she will be more than welcome to play on the tourUntil she does that, she needs to stay on the LPGA and continue as its all-time money winner.