Larry Elder

Annika Sorenstam, who dominates the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), became the first female golfer to play in a Professional Golf Association (PGA) event in 58 years.

She finished her first day one over par, but did not make the 36-hole cut because during the second day she finished with a 74, missing the cut by four shots.

During her press conference, she sounded surprisingly down, and practically conceded that she reached beyond reasonable expectations. Hey, after one try, why not give it another shot before throwing in the towel?

In any case, many fail to realize that the PGA never forbade female competitors. Indeed, Babe Didrikson Zaharias played in a PGA tournament in 1945, making the 36-hole cut, but failing to make the 54-hole cut. By contrast, the LPGA tour, by definition, confines its entrants to females.

How did Sorenstam qualify for Texas' Colonial invitational in the first place? She received a "sponsors' exemption," which allows, by any criteria, a select number of entrants to play. Some men, at first, grumbled that she failed to qualify by playing in a tournament from the women's rather than from the men's tee. She therefore, according to the critics, entered under less trying circumstances than those required for men. Golfer Vijay Singh, in particular, said, "I hope she misses the cut. Why? Because she doesn't belong out here." He then quickly backed up and said, "She's the best woman golfer in the world, and I want to emphasize 'woman.' We have our tour for men, and they have their tour. She's taking a spot from someone in the field." Yet, in years past, several men received sponsors' exemptions, including past "champions" no longer competitive. Thus, she did not "take a space" from a male tour golfer.

What's the harm? Last year, the 32-year-old Swede won 13 tournaments, exerting a dominance beyond that of even Tiger Woods. Fellow LPGA player Juli Inkster likens Sorenstam to Woods, "She's the Tiger Woods of our tour. If Tiger had a 'next level' to go to, I bet he would do it. I think she's one who always wants to challenge herself and see how she stacks up against the best. The men are the best."

Sorenstam simply crushes her league. She hits a ball longer than many men. She said she made no statement concerning women -- not one of those I-am-woman-hear-me-roar deals, but simply sought to elevate her game by playing with the best.

Does this mean that men can now compete in a LPGA Tournament?


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.