CBS golf commentator David Feherty was featured on "60 Minutes" when
the whole Annika Sorenstam media whirlwind was just beginning to whirl.
At the time, of course, there were already plenty of negative comments about her playing
in a men's event and Vijay Singh hadn't even weighed in yet.
Did he think, Feherty was asked, any of the PGA pros were secretly rooting
for Sorenstam? Yes, he said, the ones with daughters.
It was uncanny how accurate that turned out to be. Fathers and sons may have
that bond of being guys. But it is daughters who challenge and enlarge their
It couldn't have been clearer during the all-Annika, all-the-time coverage
of the golf tournament. Poor Peter Kostis, a CBS golf announcer, got off to
a bad start on the first day, referring over and over to the "girls"
tour. (Peter, Sorenstam is 32. She's not a girl. Someone clearly set him straight
before the second day and he went to "ladies," which is a little better.)
While Feherty and on-course commentator Jim Gallagher Jr. gushed about Sorenstam's
first round, Kostis hedged and fidgeted. Just on a hunch, I took a look at the
bios. Feherty has two daughters. Gallagher, who said at one point during Sorenstam's
round, "I wonder how many little girls will be picking up golf clubs? I
know mine will," has three. Kostis and his wife have two children, both
PGA player Jeff Sluman, who said to Sorenstam after she missed the cut, "Don't
make this your last (PGA appearance)" has one child, a daughter. Phil Mickelson,
who predicted a woman would play on the PGA tour someday soon, has two daughters.
Vijay Singh? One child. A son.
Having a daughter changes you. There is no way around it. The locker room jokes
don't seem as funny. The snickers about throwing "like a girl" suddenly
When my son reached a certain age, I got him a ball glove and took him out
to the back yard. We threw a ball back and forth. This lasted about five minutes
before he began looking at the sky and mentioning how hot it was in the sun.
This was not a completely horrible development. No Little League games, I thought,
no taxi service to practices. No anxious moments in the bleachers with two out
and your heir at the plate.
And then we had a daughter. At one point, I would guess there was a period
of two months when she met me at the door every night with her ball glove in
her hand. We would play catch until it was dark, until I would ask if we could
please go in and eat. She would sometimes get so mad when I made her quit that
she wouldn't speak to me for the rest of the night.
Inevitably she ended up playing with the boys. On her first baseball team none
of the boys would play catch with her. She overcame that, but it still seemed
they were throwing too hard, bumping too much on the basketball court. (That's
how it seemed to me, of course, not her.)
Dads with daughters had a slightly different feeling when Sorenstam played
against the guys. It was impossible that we would not. And you know, although
it won't get as much attention, another milestone moment is coming up.
The woman who started all this is Suzy Whaley, a teaching pro from Connecticut.
When she qualified for the Greater Hartford Open in July, it gave Sorenstam
and tournament sponsors the idea of having a woman play in a men's event.
Whaley qualified from shorter tees, an option that is no longer available,
but she will be hitting from the men's tees at Hartford. Whaley is the first
to acknowledge she is no Annika Sorenstam. She doesn't play on the LPGA Tour.
But she says, even if she shoots 90, it will be worth it.
"I think she is very brave," Sorenstam has said. "She's doing
this to show her daughters that anything is possible."
To show all of our daughters.
Copyright Scripps Howard News Service
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