May 12, 2003

"I hope she misses the cut. Why? Because she doesn't belong out here." : So says Vijay Singh, on Annika Sorenstam playing in the Colonial next week. Evidently he isn't the only player that thinks this, just the most vocal so far.

posted by corpse to golf at 03:52 PM - 25 comments

Oh goody. I expect another rational and sensitive discussion on the merits of female athletes. /sarcasm

posted by grum@work at 04:06 PM on May 12, 2003

Because she doesn't belong out here. Neither does Phil Mickelson, but nobody is jumping on his case. Seriously though...I hope she does well, and makes the cut, and comports herself well. Golfers are too sensitive by half and need to shut the fuck up and realize that their prize winnings are both directly and indirectly affected by publicity, and since the people want to watch Annika play, she's gonna play. And if she does well and competes in a few tournaments, and enters more and more, losers like Singh and Nick Price and Scott Hoch will win $75,000 for finishing 27th instead of $7500.

posted by vito90 at 04:06 PM on May 12, 2003

One more thing... [Singh] would withdraw if he gets paired with her. What are you afraid of Vijay?

posted by vito90 at 04:07 PM on May 12, 2003

Maybe he's scared he's going to get cooties. The only thing this tells me is what an ass Vijay is, I mean just suck it up and play.

posted by corpse at 04:11 PM on May 12, 2003

Vijay is setting himself up for an ass-kicking. I hope he doesn't get paired with Sorenstam. Then he'll have to play. Then I hope Sorenstam's approach play and putting take her wayyyy past Vijay. As a bonus, her driving distance should surpass him, too. Then we'd know why he doesn't want to play with her. Someone should get on the course and hold up her score everytime he's about to make a shot.

posted by worldcup2002 at 04:37 PM on May 12, 2003

Vijay has his head up is putter a bit on this, but I can see where some of the pros would be bent that she's getting a sponsor's exemption rather than playing her way in. I'm sure he sees this (as do I) as purely a publicity stunt rather than honest attempt at diversity. Now I personally don't care if she plays or not, but I might have a different view if I were trying to scratch my way on to the tour and needed an exemption or two to increase my shot at staying in the top 150. If Anna really wants to see how she competes against the men let her go to Q school or play a year on the Nationwide - otherwise she'll have to live with the reactions one would expect at a sideshow. (And for the record I haven't seen any reaction from her - professional that she is, I doubt it would affect her.) And there ain't no way Anna's out driving VJ.

posted by kloeprich at 06:49 PM on May 12, 2003

Confirmation: Singh average driving distance in 2003: 300.2 yds (6th in PGA) Sorrenstam average driving distance in 2003: 275.4 (T-1st in LPGA, 159th in the PGA, 34th in Champions Tour, 147th in Nationwide Tour, 154th on the European Tour) I don't have the patience to compare the other stats (driving accuracy, greens in regulation, etc.)

posted by grum@work at 07:38 PM on May 12, 2003

Sorenstam received one of eight sponsor's exemptions. Where's Vijay's outrage about the seven men who got exemptions? What a sexist ass. If a woman was good enough to play in the PGA, I see no reason why that shouldn't be allowed -- to claim that it's a mens-only league is ridiculous. Leave the one-gender rules for leagues that need them to avoid a competitive imbalance.

posted by rcade at 08:00 PM on May 12, 2003

rcade and others, would you accept it if a man decided he wanted to play in the LPGA? Some guy who is not good enough for the PGA tour but who wants to make money playing pro golf, and is good enough to play LPGA golf. Would you have a problem with that? Most people have problems with men playing from the ladies tees, let alone competing among them. That's the double standard going on. A woman crossing over is fine but a guy going the other way is not. So we shouldn't allow it to happen at all or abolish the gender-based system of grouping. I personally would rather see the gender based system dropped entirely. Let everyone play on one tour, the best of the golfers, male or female. This whole "crossover" into men's tours is devaluing the LPGA tour. If the best female players are not even playing on the tour, why do we still have that tour and why would anyone prefer to sponsor them?

posted by therev at 08:57 PM on May 12, 2003

The point is not that sponsor's exemptions exist, it's how she got it. Typically there's a play-in among the non-qualifiers for the slots and the tournament can award slots to other players - pro's with ties to the course or area, maybe past champions who've lost their exemption, etc. The vast majority have played their way into the tournament. So does Sorenstam's play on the LPGA tour now meet that qualification? No. But she makes the event highly marketable and there's certainly reason to believe she'll be competitive. So the hope is that Vijay would be similarly outraged if the sponsor's allowed, say, Arnold Palmer an exemption. Of course you can make the case that Arnie's contributions earn him any exemption he wants, but at this point he certainly doesn't belong out there. I'd like to believe this is where Vijay was headed with all this, but it sure doesn't read that way.

posted by kloeprich at 09:12 PM on May 12, 2003

I think therev makes a good point. Regardless of the tone of Vijay's comment, the issue is not necessarily sexist. For better or worse, there are gendered groupings/categories/spaces that exist. The real question is, what should we do about these gendered divisions? Should everything be co-ed? Is there a place in our day and age for gendered divisions (clubs, leagues, locker rooms)? If not, should men also be able to participate in women's leagues (as therev suggests)? Or will it always be about the girls playing with the boys? It may be that all sports in the future will be co-ed. That may or may not be a bad development.

posted by jacknose at 09:46 AM on May 13, 2003

I've written a subscriber column about Singh's remarks.

posted by rcade at 10:48 AM on May 13, 2003

I completely concur with kloeprich (and being alliterative). It's not a matter of her playing I like anything that kicks the PGA in the pants. But those exemptions generally go to people who DESERVE them. If Anna wants to play on the men's tour, fine go earn it, just like Suzy Whaley did for her slot in the Great Hartford Open (although she played from shorter tees, and the PGA has since changed the rule about that). I am hoping, simply on principle, for Sorenstam to get her ass kicked.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:40 AM on May 13, 2003

I am hoping, simply on principle, for Sorenstam to beat Singh. But I'm not betting on it.

posted by grum@work at 12:40 PM on May 13, 2003

Being Vijay Singh...

posted by corpse at 02:12 PM on May 13, 2003

It's not about whether men should play in the LPGA. The LPGA is a gender-protected division. By separating itself from the main tour on the basis of sex, the LPGA is saying "we can't compete on an equal level." If the PGA wants to claim to have the best golfers in the world it should redefine itself as an Open division that welcomes men and women. Coming from a sport with no men's division - everyone competes against one another unless they choose to enter a women's division - this is a no brainer. If everyone can earn their way onto the tour, the tour winner gets to call him/herself the best golfer. They've taken the first step - inviting Annika to play the Memorial, which makes a high profile statement that everyone is welcome as long as they compete on the same tees. Now the male pros just have to stop getting freaked out over the possibility they'll lose to a girl.

posted by neuroshred at 03:20 PM on May 13, 2003

Aaaargh, corpse, the colours!! Most. Hideous. Webpage. Ever.

posted by squealy at 05:55 PM on May 13, 2003

Neuroshred - your first paragraph there is perfectly 100% correct and is the best rationale I have heard so far.

posted by vito90 at 10:06 PM on May 13, 2003

The Dallas Morning News has an article featuring other players' comments. It's registration, and my browser's got the cookie, so I don't remember the login. Here's some highlights:

When Vijay Singh arrived at the practice range Tuesday, he received a hug and pat on the back from veteran Fulton Allem. Count Allem among those PGA Tour players who disagree with Annika Sorenstam playing against the men at the Bank of America Colonial next week. Singh may be the one embroiled in controversy after saying he would withdraw if somehow paired with Sorenstam. But he at least got support from Allem, the 1993 Colonial champion. "You can't mix oil and water; it's as simple as that," Allem said. "I'm 100 percent behind Vijay because men can't play on the women's tour, so why should women be allowed to play on our tour? "Obviously, there are people that want her to play, and there are people that don't want her to play. I'm one of those people that don't want her to play. She's a woman. I'm a man. She should do what women do. I'll do what men do." Allem, asked if he would withdraw if he and Sorenstam made the cut and were paired together Saturday, said, "It's not that I won't play. It's just that I deserve better. I've been on this tour 27 years. I'm a winner. If she makes the cut and she's paired with me, then good luck to her. I think she's got no chance of making the cut." Brandel Chamblee, who is playing in the Nelson on a sponsor's exemption, has a good chance of playing with Sorenstam at Colonial. With no status on tour, he and Sorenstam are Category 3 players, who are paired together the first two rounds. He would like nothing better than to be in Sorenstam's group Thursday and Friday. "I've got a one-in-six chance of playing with her, and that would be great," Chamblee said. "If you get paired with Tiger Woods, 50 years from now you're going to remember something about it. But if you get paired with Annika Sorenstam, you'll remember everything about it. It would be like a front-row seat to history." Arron Oberholser applauded Singh's comments, saying he was speaking for the majority of players on tour. "Pretty much everybody feels the same way, we just don't want to say it," Oberholser said. "In all honesty, is there a place for her on the men's tour? No, there's not. But because of the bylaws, they've got to let her play. We've got to live with that." Others say they have no problem with Sorenstam getting an exemption because many of those are often used on players who have little chance of contending. Local pros and amateurs are often given spots at tournaments. "She is taking a spot away from somebody, but if that's who they want to give it to, so be it," said Dallas' Hank Kuehne, who needed sponsor's exemptions to earn his way onto the tour this season. "The fact is, if you play good golf, then everything takes care of itself." Chamblee, who also uses sponsor's exemptions, said having Sorenstam will be positive because it will increase exposure for the tour, and thus, everybody will benefit. CBS announced Tuesday that it will extend its coverage of the third round of Colonial by an hour if Sorenstam makes the cut. If she misses the cut, the network will instead show highlights of her first two rounds Saturday. "I read Vijay's comments this morning, and I think he is entirely missing the point," Chamblee said. "What we're doing out here is all about entertainment. Does she offer any entertainment value to the tournament? You betcha. Every country in the world, every woman in the world who plays golf, people who don't play golf, are all going to tune in. Billie Jean King did it against Bobby Riggs, and it was for giggles. This is actual competition." PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was not surprised to see Singh's comments. He said the tour will gain exposure and possibly attract interest from a different audience. "He said what a lot of players feel when a nonmember gets a sponsor's exemption," Finchem said of Singh. "It's not unique to Annika. Nonmembers take up a spot for what normally would be a playing opportunity for a player. So it's not the most popular thing. It never has been. It just happens in this case that Annika happens to be a female, so everybody says, 'Well, this is the end of the world.' It's not anything new. I've heard it before."
Sorry that was so long, but the DMN registration is a bitch. Whoever this Fulton Allem guy is, regardless of his beliefs, he made himself sound like a dick.

posted by Ufez Jones at 11:33 PM on May 13, 2003

Another good article probably not worth a post of it's own from the San Jose Mercury News comparing Annika to the whole Billy Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs match.

posted by Ufez Jones at 11:45 PM on May 13, 2003

I gained a humongous amount of respect last night watching David Duval and Paul Stankowski and a few other guys on Outside the Lines. I believe Duval's qoute was "I think this is fantastic". Stankowski said "Wouldn't it just be a great story if she won?" They both sounded very sincere. I've decided it's not worth wasting any breath on Singh, Price and the rest of the guys who are so scared of this one woman! Props to the guys who take it in stride and welcome it, I will root for them hereafter.

posted by vito90 at 07:59 AM on May 14, 2003

"Obviously, there are people that want him to play, and there are people that don't want him to play. I'm one of those people that don't want him to play. He's black. I'm white. He should do what blacks do. I'll do what whites do." -- What the Fulton Allems of the world were saying when Charlie Sifford became the first black PGA Tour member in the '60s

posted by rcade at 08:07 AM on May 14, 2003

rcade's quote: 'Nuff said.

posted by trox at 08:18 AM on May 14, 2003

Singh "apologizes" and tries to put some spin control on his comments ... Just keep digging, buddy. Should've kept your mouth shut the first time.

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:41 AM on May 14, 2003

A review of Ferguson's notes confirmed the original version of Singh's remarks. I really don't want to be this guy's apologist, but I think Allem's comments are far more inflammatory and sexist. Tim Finchem has to love all this no brainer prediction: the Colonial ends up the with the highest ratings of any non-Tiger event this year. Speaking of which, El Tigre recently reiterated his stance that Annika should play in multiple events. I was kind of hoping hed come out and bitch-slap Vijay just to liven things up a little more. Theres no love lost between those two, but I guess that was too much to ask.

posted by kloeprich at 11:32 AM on May 14, 2003

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