Stephenson Drawing Attention


KAHUKU, Hawaii (AP) -- Jan Stephenson is known for taking unusual steps to bring attention to women's golf.
She caused a stir on the LPGA by selling her sex appeal, and perhaps the most famous episode was when she posed in a bathtub filled with golf balls.
The latest venture comes Friday when the 51-year-old Australian becomes the first woman to play on the Champions Tour.
Stephenson doesn't want to prove she can compete with the men. She has no illusions of outplaying Hale Irwin, who is trying to become the first player from the 50-and-older circuit to win the same tournament five times.
She only wants to bring attention to the fledgling Women's Senior Golf Tour.
'I don't want to match my game against the men,'' she said. 'I know they can outhit and outplay me. I'm here to promote the WSGT. We need a spark.''
Stephenson is the fifth woman to play on men's tours this year.
None is more memorable than Annika Sorenstam at the Colonial, where she became the first woman in 58 years on the PGA Tour. Under scrutiny even more severe than major championships, Sorenstam had respectable rounds of 72-75 and missed the cut by four.
Suzy Whaley qualified for the Greater Hartford Open by winning a PGA Sectional tournament for PGA Professionals. She, too, missed the cut.
Michelle Wie, a 13-year-old from Hawaii, played on the Nationwide Tour in Idaho and lasted only two days. On Thursday, Laura Davies hit two balls in the water and opened with a 78 in the Korean Open on the Asian Tour.
Stephenson, who won 16 times and three majors during her LPGA career, will tee it up with 80 men on the 7,044-yard Palmer Course in the Turtle Bay Championship.
Stephenson was the LPGA's original glamour girl, and she still thinks the tour is not doing enough to promote sex appeal in women's sports.
'I just can't believe they have these absolutely gorgeous women and totally won't sell them that way,'' she said. 'It's a fantastic product they're letting out the door because they're paranoid about selling sex appeal.''
In the interest of marketing herself and the LPGA early in the prime of her career, she posed for several calendars, plus the poster of her in the bathtub.
'They said when I did that stuff for the LPGA that it created an extra 20,000 to 25,000 fans a week,'' she said. 'If that's what sells and the bottom line is business, then that's what you have to go with.''
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