Back in 2003 Annika Sorenstam became the first woman in over half a century to tee it up alongside the men in a PGA Tour event at the Bank of America Colonial.
It’s now 20 years since that historic appearance at Colonial and women’s golf is a completely sport from what is was back then although still some way off the exposure and rewards found in the men’s game.
Fifty-eight years after Babe Zaharias had made the midway cut at the Los Angeles Open, it was Sorenstam who made the next attempt to face the men on the PGA Tour.
It was seen as something of a sideshow back then, with numerous players, most infamously Vijay Singh, not exactly being taken by the idea.
Let’s look back at that incredible event two decades ago, and what’s happened in women’s golf since.
How did Sorenstam get on?
The sight of Sorenstam exhaling with relief after hitting her opening Thursday drive down the middle was proof of the pressure the 32-year-old was under. It was a challenge she had not faced in the years where she had dominated previously.
The Swede was paired with Aaron Barber and Dean Wilson, and looked to be making steady progress on the front nine. Her consistency was without question; she hit 13 of 14 fairways from the tee and even bombed one drive all of 282 yards.
Her approach play was also in fine tune, hitting 14 greens in regulation. As expected, the damp conditions did affect distance overall, but it was to be a critical three-putt bogey on the last that thwarted hopes with a one-over-par 71.
In Friday’s second round, Sorenstam’s four-over-par 74 meant a five-over total of 145. She would miss the cut by four strokes.
Three bogeys on the front nine and two on the back meant there would be no repeat of Zaharias’ 1945 feat. To the delight of the galleries, Sorenstam continued in style throughout her damaging round, even firing at pins as she chased birdie opportunities down the closing stretch.
But it wasn’t about the result; her demeanour had shone from start to finish, and her emotions showed as she shed tears on leaving the 18th green.
What they said…
It was a mixed reaction at best, with the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson being a lot more positive than other PGA Tour pros who probably felt a bit more threatened about Sorenstam’s presence.
The two-time Major winner threatened to pull out of the tournament if paired with Sorenstam.
Two-time Major winner…
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