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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Monday, January 27, 2003
5:45 PM

Golf on Annika Sorsenstam. Part of a Q&A-style column by Ron Sirak.

Wouldn't Sorenstam be knocking a deserving male out of the tournament she plays by taking his place?

Yes, but that happens all of the time. The use of sponsor exemptions is a sometimes maddening process that has nothing to do with fairness. When Jim Thorpe was in his late 40s and looking for places to play until he was old enough for the Champions Tour he couldn't get an invite into the Tucson tournament and he was a two-time winner there. Many times those invitations go to local amateurs, area pros and others who have no chance of winning

There are a bunch of different ways for golfers to play at PGA events. I'm not an expert on all of them, but they include, I believe, an exemption to play most normal PGA events for the following two years after you've won one; or you can play your way on in Q-school (qualification school), a grueling tournament; or your're somewhere up there on the moneylist, which means you can never win a tournament and play the tour for years; and you can get a "sponor's exemption" as mentioned above. Tournaments award a handful of spots to anyone they want. It's hard to form a principled argument against handing an invitation to Sorenstam on this basis, but it raises questions about the purpose of the women's and men's tours.

Should Sorenstam accept an invitation?

Absolutely. Some say it would hurt the image of the LPGA if the best woman player in the world shot in the 80s in a men's event. That might be true, but mostly those people who would say "I told you so" are men who already put down the women's game. It's a risk, no doubt. But it could be the biggest PR day the LPGA has ever had, and the LPGA needs all the PR help it can get.

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