Norman Offers Sorenstam Shootout Invite

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NAPLES, Fla. -- Greg Norman never liked the idea of women competing on men's tours. He made an exception Monday for Annika Sorenstam, inviting her to play in the Merrill Lynch Shootout during the silly season.
 
Sorenstam, who became the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour when she missed the cut in the 2003 Colonial, will be playing in the silly season for the third straight year. She has played in the Skins Game the last two years.

Norman is the tournament host of the event known as the 'Shark Shootout.' He announced a new title sponsor in Merrill Lynch, and offered the first invitations to Sorenstam and Fred Couples. The only other players confirmed for the 12-team field Nov. 10-12 at Tiburon Golf Club are defending champions Kenny Perry and John Huston.
 
Norman has been outspoken about women playing on men's tours, calling it a marketing ploy two years ago when Laura Davies was given an exemption to the ANZ Championship.
 
'I think the rightful place is that women play on their tour and we play on ours,' he said in January 2004. 'It all started with Annika to promote herself and promote women's golf, but at the end of the day, it can be very detrimental.'
 
Se Ri Pak is the only woman to have made the cut on a men's tour since 2003, tying for 10th in a Korean tournament.
 
Norman said Monday he still believes any woman wanting to compete on a men's tour should qualify. But he said unofficial events like the Merrill Lynch Shootout or the Skins Game are different.
 
'I think I've been very consistent and public in some of the my comments prior to this in believing that anybody that plays on a regular tour event, whether it's in Australia, whether it is in Europe or in the U.S., should earn their stripes to go play it,' he said. 'This Merrill Lynch Shootout is a totally different event. Even though it is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour, it's still got that relaxed atmosphere that an individual like Annika Sorenstam will come and add a tremendous amount of value to it.'
 
Norman said inviting Sorenstam was a joint decision with Merrill Lynch, which previously has worked with Sorenstam.
 
Her partner has not been determined. Norman usually determines the teams, but told Sorenstam she could play with whomever she wants -- even if her partner is another woman.
 
'Would there possibly be another woman? Absolutely,' Norman said. 'Time will tell who that will be.'
 
Norman said the tournament next year will move to December and will be televised on the weekend by NBC Sports.
 
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