The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Woman driver is blinded by light

The ladies were enjoying a quiet pot of tea on the club house patio when an all-male fourball arrived on the final green. A torrent of expletives followed a missed putt, and a duffed bunker shot resulted in a sand wedge flying across the practice green and demolishing a clump of newly planted rhododendrons.

“Really, this is quite intolerable,” huffed the lady captain, “I shall complain to the secretary.” A few days later, the secretary posted his decision on the club noticeboard. “It has been brought to my attention that some members’ enjoyment has recently been compromised by an unfortunate series of incidents around the 18th green, and so, with immediate effect, ladies will not be allowed on the patio.”

Some may associate this as a not untypical joke at the mysogonist gathering known as the men’s annual dinner, while others might even recognise it as a true story.

Attitudes are slowly changing, but it is not all that long ago since women’s involvement with golf was expected to be not much more than a “well done dear” over the Sunday lunch table.

Which is why the presence of Annika Sorenstam in a men’s event has polarised so many opinions. It began with Vijai Singh describing it as “ridiculous”, and withdrawing from Colonial altogether when he realised the extent of the media circus here.

Vijai’s excuse was a bit lame, something about promising his wife he’d take a week off, but if he really wants to get his own back he should join the European Tour. A recent directive from Brussels means that men can, in theory, play in women’s events as long as there is reasonable evidence that they are planning to turn into a female. Any prospective transsexuals have to present their case to a committee, which conjures up a picture of Vijai slipping into a Shirley Bassey style gown and giving them a rousing rendition of Hey Big Spender.

There is, in any event, disturbing Darwinian-type news from Texas that all men will soon change into women anyway. In Denton County, they’ve discovered that male fish are developing female characteristics as a result of high levels of oestrogen from birth control pills and hormone replacement medication.

Which is more than can be said about the media here this week. When Sorenstam teed off for a practice Monday, her opening drive finishing in the right hand rough was probably the result of being blinded by photographer’s flashguns. She was also 40 yards behind her two partners, and was still short of the par five first hole in three when a thunderstorm struck.

Sorenstam exercised her ladies prerogative by being late for her press conference Tuesday. She said: “I wasjust trying to test myself”. She added: “I’ll know where I stand when I leave here on Sunday,” though most people’s money is on her leaving Friday night.

Whatever she does, however, she is bound to take a unique place in American golf, as the first woman to tee off to a cry of: “You’re the man!”

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