Anorak News | Men Only

Men Only

by | 21st, May 2003

‘APART from ice dancing and things with horses, women fail to compete on an equal footing with men in sport.

Annika Sorenstam prepares for a meeting with Vijay Singh

Some East German athletes of the 1970s could lay claim to being every bit as good as their male counterparts – and so good were they that a few were made honorary men, complete with Adam’s apples and the ability to dress to the right or left.

And unless Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam has a mobile pharmacy in with her clubs, she will be whipped out of sight by the rest of the field at this week’s PGA Tour’s Colonial Tournament.

It is 58 years since a woman last entered a professional men’s tournament. In 1945, Babe Zaharias competed at the Los Angeles Open, making the cut.

Since then no mixing on the professional fairways has been allowed. It’s the way Peter Alliss, the pompous ass, would have dreamt it – the big boys out on the course, boring the socks off each other, while the little ladies potter about chattering about macrame and how wonderfully clever darling Peter is.

But now golf’s men’s club has been opened up to women. And Vijay Singh, the world’s seventh best golfer is put out. He says he hopes Sorenstam misses the cut, and that women have no place in the men’s game.

Doubtless some voices in the less enlightened parts of the golfing US would also prefer it that Singh, a man of dark skin, didn’t play the game either.

And, as luck has it for the good ol’ boys, the Fijian has withdrawn from the tournament, giving the excuse that he needs a week off.

”I told my wife last week if I won a tournament I would take a week off,” Singh said, just before, one imagines, he patted her on the head and sent her back to the kitchen.

But why withdraw? Why does it matter that a woman plays with men? She has no chance of winning.

Sorenstam is the best female golfer in the world, the winner of 43 tournaments, 19 in the last two seasons, but she’s still not good enough to compete with the top men.

I recall that Bobby Riggs was 55 when he challenged Billy Jean King to a game in 1973, with the words: ”I want Billie Jean King… I want the women’s lib leader!”

Riggs was confident that no woman, however skilful, would beat him. Billie Jean won in three sets, proving little more than Riggs was wrong and that a young fit woman can beat an ageing still fit man.

Sadly for Sorenstam, she’s not up against Seve Ballesteros or Arnold Palmer but some hungry young American golfers. She won’t win the tournament, but she will attract interest to the game.

And that is no bad thing in a sport that before Tiger Woods came along was as alluring to the young and female as Peter Alliss.

Posted: 21st, May 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink