U.S. Open over; U.S. Women's Open on the way
Michael Campbell didn?t just win a giant trophy on Sunday. He also took home $1,125,000, exempt status on the PGA Tour for the next five years, invitations to the next five Masters, British Opens, Players Championships, and PGA Championships, and invitations to the next ten U.S. Opens. That?s just gotta take some of the pressure off.
He also, with this win, almost doubled his career earnings, and won himself a spot in the hearts of many golfing Americans, mine included.
But now the Open is over, and I find myself suffering from a bit of withdrawal.
No worries, there?s another one this weekend. The women are going to tee it up in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, to see who can take the U.S. Women?s Open title away from Meg Mallon.
Will it be Annika? If so, she?ll bring home $560,000, her third major for the year, and her seventh win out of nine starts. Let?s put that in perspective. Tiger?s had 12 starts this year, and won three events, including one major. Not six events. Three. Annika?s won twice as many events so far, and twice as many majors. Tiger?s 2005 winnings so far total $4,800,290. Annika?s total $1,503,238.
Notice anything? If not, let me spell it out for you. The women earn less than half of what the men make, even when they win twice as often. I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions as to why.
If for no other reason, this is why I?m thrilled when players like Michelle Wie and Suzy Whaley tee it up at men’s events. They deserve their shot at those ginormous purses just as much as the guys do. May the best golfer win, male or female.
And yes, Michelle will indeed be in the field this weekend; last year, she was one of the first amateurs to be offered a special exemption. And her T13 finish (at the ripe old age of 14) was good enough to get her in this time without any help.
Be sure to check out the Golf Grouch?s great blog on Annika and her Grand Slam goals. I just love that guy.
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However, there are many jealous and shortsighted LPGA players who still want Michelle to "pay her dues." All this will do is further alienate her to the LPGA.
Uhhh... no they don't. Sports are entertainment and that is all. Playing any sport really well is absolutely meaningless in terms of dollars unless it can be converted into revenue by networks, clothing companies, equipment manufacturers, etc. E.G. I was a hell of a wiffle ball player in my prime, but I never made a dime! Oh the tragedy!
Look don't get me wrong, there are plenty of women out there who could tee off from where I do and wipe up the course with me. But that won't earn them 1 penny unless they can get someone to watch them do it and get people to buy equipment that they used to do it.
Deserve? Well the money these people make is all about sales. I assure you that if there comes a time when the LPGA has anywhere near the viewership/support the PGA does, the purses will be similar. The competitors and their agents will make sure of that. Don't you worry.
This is a win win situation - Jennifer Mario, the Burke woman and others like them solud be thrilled at the equal treatment afforded to women, competing with the men on equal terms for the same purse, and there are many PGA journeymen who would make a comfortable living on the LPGA Tour.
Therefore be it resolved: that women be INVITED to play in the PGA. And let the dust fall where it may.
Each course should have a closer set of tees for the women, not too much closer, but definitely something a bit more realistic than some of the men's tee lengths.
Also, each tournament could be fixed to have 3 winners: men's champion, women's champion, and overall champion.
As for men playing on the LPGA, that's a pointless discussion. Why not let Tiger compete in the US Amateur each year? Why not let Paula Cremer play for an NCAA team? Why not let Phil Mickelson and Meg Mallon play in the Junior Golf championship? There will always be restrictions to create lesser golf tours or events. The PGA should be the highest level, where the only criteria is being good enough to play, no matter your age, gender, or nationality.
So the issue is not "the women should get the same as the men". The market will dictate what the LPGA purses will be worth, and the PGA purses. The issue is that the very best among the women should be in the competition on the PGA circuit to see if they stack up or not - and if they do, they will earn some of those larger payouts.
How about the reigning Women's US Open winner getting an exemption into the US Open or the Masters? The US Amateur champion gets that - why not the Women's Open winner? By having a few of the top women's winners exempt into these men's majors, we'll all see how the ladies stack up to the men on a regular basis, just as we get to see how Luke List stacked up against the likes of Tiger and Phil at Pinehurst this year. That would be a very positive change for the USGA to make.
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