Her reasons for coming are as simple as they possibly can be. Back in February, she wondered how she would do against the highest level of competition. She had won 13 times worldwide in 2002 ' 11 on the LPGA Tour ' and she was curious. The PGA Tour, she mused?
To her surprise, she actually got a handful of offers. She chose the Bank of America Colonial. Now, she is undergoing quite a roasting because of it. She is hearing from the PGA Tour, certainly, but she is hearing from a disgruntled few on the LPGA. And she is hearing it from a few of the media.
Too many people think she has an agenda. The whole thing reeks of publicity, said Nick Price. Some media members opined that she is doing it because of Suzy Whaleys success in qualifying for the Greater Hartford Open ' much to club pro Whaleys shock. Sorenstam, it has been said, couldnt let a club pro carry the banner for the whole female race. Better that the best the LPGA has to offer gives it a shot first, then send in the powder-puff hitter. At least then the men will have a REAL woman player to compete against - or so the reasoning went.
Sorry, but its all wrong. People may have a difficult time believing this, but its true: Annika Sorenstam is doing this solely for Annika Sorenstam. There are no ulterior motives, no plans to bring the best of the PGA Tour crashing down to Annikas size, nothing remotely of the kind.
There are certain things that I control, and certain things that I cant, she said, resigned to the fact that people will see a conspiracy regardless of how many times she objects.
Id like to emphasize that Im not putting the guys on test here ' or men against women. Far from that. This is a test for me, personally.
In other words, for this one week, Sorenstam would like to forget she is a woman. She would just like to be a golfer. As a golfer, is she good enough to play with these other golfers ' who happen to be the men of the PGA Tour?
Unfortunately, her anatomy makes that difficult. She is a female, participating against golfers whose anatomy is male. There are thousands of years of prejudice built in here. And that prejudice says that anything a female can do, a male can do better.
Theyve been alluding to that theory over and over, these men. Everyone talks about the razzing that will take place in the locker room, the poor schmoes who happen to get beat by Sorenstam. Feminine products, flowers, girdles, all kinds of womens things are predicted for the souls who are unlucky enough to get beat by a girl.
Phil Mickelson was very complimentary when he said he expects Sorenstam to make the cut, maybe even finish in the top 20. But then the same old prejudice came seeping out ' where does Mickelson expect to finish? Hopefully, 19th or better, he kidded.
If I can just relate that to them ' I mean, theyve got to trust me, this is why Im doing it, Annika said. I wouldnt want to get into any political things. I have nothing to do with that. Thats not my goal here. I dont want to put the guys on the defensive or anything.
I just want to play against the best and see what happens.
She will wear slacks and a baseball cap ' just like all the men. She will probably have her hair pulled up under her hat. Seen from outside the gallery ropes, she could be any other man striding down the fairway. But she will be Annika.
I gotta believe in what I can do, she said. I have no idea how these guys play. Im going to go out there and play the course the way its set up. If I play well, I have no idea where that will put me.
The gents really have no idea, either. If centuries of myth prove correct, no male will be beaten by this female. If its just golf, however, then this golfer has just as good a chance as those golfers.