I had mixed emotions when Annika Sorenstam said that she wanted
to be the first woman in 58 years to play in a PGA Tour event.
It's nice that Annika is pursuing a dream to take her game to a
different level, but her quest puts the LPGA in a tough spot. We
have more to lose as an organization than Annika has to gain as
Annika has said that playing in the Colonial is a personal
challenge, not a statement about women's golf, but that's naive.
She is the LPGA's No. 1 player and represents every player on our
tour. As much as she wants to say, "This is for me," we will all
go through this experience with her. The reality is that the LPGA
will be labeled as a result of her play at the Colonial, and
that's a no-win situation for us. If she plays well, people will
think she's too good for the rest of us on the tour and that she
should play at least part time on the PGA Tour. If she misses the
cut, then people will decide that the only reason she dominates
our tour is because the rest of us stink.
There is a reason that the PGA Tour was created for the men and
the LPGA for the women. Men are stronger and can hit the ball
farther with more spin. Quite simply, they are playing a
different game than we are. I admire Annika for challenging that
idea, but there are physical limitations to being a woman. That
will be laid bare when she tees it up in front of the world at
the Colonial. I played at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, and practiced
at Colonial once a week for four years. It's one of the toughest
tracks with some of the tightest fairways I've ever played--and I
was hitting from the white tees, not the tips. With the course
playing at 7,080 yards for the tournament--about 800 more than
the average LPGA venue--Annika, a straight shooter, will have to
shape her drives to keep the ball in play, and I don't envy her
having to approach those tiny greens with long irons or woods.
During the LPGA off-season, I coach the girls' ninth-grade
basketball team at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth. I try to
instill in my players the belief that there are endless
possibilities awaiting them. For these girls, that is the WNBA,
not the NBA. I wish Annika luck but hope that the rest of us
don't have to suffer as she chases her dream.
March 31, 2003
Angela Stanford, 25, finished 45th on the LPGA money list last
year. She lives in Fort Worth.