When the best player in women's golf tees off Thursday in Fort Worth, she'll become the first woman in nearly 60 years to play with the men of the PGA. But, Annika Sorenstam's move to challenge herself has caused a flood of controversy among some players, like Vijay Singh.
But, what do the women golfers out at Hollytree in Tyler think about Annika playing at the Colonial? Many see Annika's shot at the men's tour as more than media hype. To them, it's another step forward in the women's game.
Today, almost 25% of golfers are women. And more and more are using it in work and life, just like men.
"It was a great tool for me when I was working," says Linda Davidson. "I was able to schmooz with clients. I worked for Phillips, and some of the women who didn't play golf didn't get that time alone."
That's par for the course now. But several women playing at Hollytree on Wednesday remember back 10-15 years ago when women couldn't get on a course before the afternoon, but men could. Susie Presswood recalls, "I have definitely experienced that in courses I belonged to before I came to Hollytree. You couldn't tee off on Saturday until after 1." Let alone watch a woman like Annika Sorenstam drive with the big boys of the PGA. "Other than Babe several years ago it's the first time it has been attempted. Some are resentful but some are really happy she's there and glad to see her do well."
Hollytree pro Michael Harrison is one of the men rooting for Annika, and what her Colonial appearance could mean for the younger generation. "I think it has really helped the young women golfers. They are very excited about Annika playing in the Colonial. In fact, I know one young girl who's down there today to watch her play."
Annika Sorenstam's got something to prove. She's said so herself. But can Annika make the cut? Back on the 15th at Hollytree, the faithful women golfers say even if she doesn't, the attention on Annika still means progress for women golfers in general.
"Annika she's out there, she's got her foot in the door and she just might show out some of these guys," says Toni Hargis.
All the ladies I talked to say if any woman has a chance in the PGA it's Annika. Annika, herself compared the challenge to climbing Mount Everest. If she can make the cut Friday, she might just inspire a lot of little lady golfers.
Dana Dixon, reporting.
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