The same kind of affirmative action program that brought Jayson Blair to ruin at the New York Times has resulted in female golfer Annika Sorenstam’s dramatic failure to make the cut at the Colonial Open PGA event in Dallas. Most in the media had been cheering for her.
The world’s top female golfer had not qualified for the men’s tournament like other non-PGA Tour pros but had received a special exemption from a sponsor to compete. 60 Minutes had done a story noting that she had lifted weights for two years to increase upper-body strength in an effort to make sure she could compete with the men. She chose a course that was shorter than average and more conducive to a woman doing well. Her other advantages included the fact that Tiger Woods wasn’t at the event, and neither was Canadian Mike Weir, the Master’s champion.
She still finished 96th out of an original field of 114. On ABC’S This Week, conservative George Will said that “she played brilliantly under pressure.” Michel Martin said, “it shows the guys aren’t worried that women can’t play, they’re worried that they can plan. And she showed that she can play.” It can be argued that it’s an achievement for a woman to compete at some level with men, but many in the media had argued that she was going to do so well that she would make the cut. Dave Anderson of the New York Times flatly declared, “?I believe she will make the cut.” Dave George of Cox News Service agreed.
Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post said, “All of the data available, and there’s a ton of it, indicates that Sorenstam, whose average drive this season is 275 yards, should feel right at home at Colonial. She’s not out of her league.” In another column, he said, “Come on, Annika, stick it to ’em. You can play with plenty of these jerks.”
By contrast, Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer said that “?she will fail.” And Melanie Hauser of GolfWeb declared, “This isn’t about siding with a bunch of guys who don’t want to get beat by a girl. It’s not about ignoring the accomplishments of the best female player on the planet. Or about dissing her skills. Or dismissing her before she steps to the first tee?This is about golf. Pure and simple. It’s about 114 players and a golf course?A course where Annika Sorenstam will make history. A course where she won’t make the cut.” Sorenstam had told Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes that she wasn’t trying to make a feminist statement, but the feminists had seized upon her entrance in the Colonial, noting that it came in the wake of efforts to open up the male-only membership at the Augusta National Golf Club to women.
The New York Times had joined that campaign to repeal the male-only rules at Augusta. That campaign failed, too. The paper could not accept Sorenstam’s failure at Colonial, publishing the results of a computer golf game showing Sorenstam beating Vijay Singh, the male golfer who said she didn’t belong on the men’s course and accurately predicted that she would not make the cut.