Have you ever wondered if women have attempted to play on the men’s PGA Tour? How would women perform compared to the men? Would it be competitive and close? Could a woman win a PGA Tour event?
While these are great questions we’ve all be wondering, let’s take a look at some history to share what’s been achieved by women golfer’s taking a shot at the PGA Tour.
Is There a Rule Against Women Playing PGA Tour Events?
There is no rule stating women cannot play in PGA Tour events. The PGA Tour is not an exclusively men’s league. The PGA currently allows both men and women to attempt their skills on PGA Tour golf courses.
And women have done so, here’s a list of women who have played at PGA Tour events.
History of Women Playing PGA Tour Events
In 1938, Babe Didrikson Zaharias was the first woman to try competing against the men in the men’s golf tournaments. She qualified for the 1938 Los Angeles Open and did not make it to the end of the event, being cut.
In 1945, Babe qualified again for the Los Angeles Open and this time made the 36 hole cut. However, she failed to move past the 3rd round, getting cut after 54 holes, after firing a 79 and thus failing to finish the full 72 hole event.
Babe Zaharias is one of the most successful female golfers in golf’s rich history as she would win 55 tournaments competing in women’s events during her professional career. She also won two gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Olympics, cementing her legacy as one of the top female athletes in history.
Let’s move on to the next famous woman to make headlines testing the men’s tournaments.
Annika Sorenstam is a well-known name in the golfing world thanks to her success on the LPGA Tour, where she won 72 golf tournaments. She is regarded as one of the top 10 female golfers of all time.
Annika also attempted playing in PGA Tour events. In 2003, she got invited to play the Colonial Tournament in Fort Worth, Texas using a sponsor’s exemption.
Her first round in the PGA event was promising as she scored a 71, which was just 1 over par. On day 2, however, she shot 4-over par for a 74 and missed the cut. Her driving distance was far back in the field at just 260 yards on average which proved tough on the lengthy course.
In her interview after the PGA tournament, Sorenstam expressed her goal was to test her skills and see how she could do against the men and that it was a dream come true to get the chance.
She would receive more sponsor exemptions to play PGA Tour events, but she declined, never attempting to play against the men in the PGA Tour again.
Suzy Whaley was a club pro who also got a chance to play in a PGA Tour event when she competed in the men’s 2003 Greater Hartford Open.
Whaley won the 2002 Connecticut Section PGA tournament playing from the women’s forward tees, which became controversial since she had beaten men in the event who played from the men’s back tees.
However, the PGA of America still allowed her victory to withstand and allowed her to play in the Greater Hartford Open, but she was required to play from the men’s tees during this PGA Tour event.
Despite her best efforts, Whaley scored 153 for the first two rounds of play and did not make the cut.
Michelle Wie holds the title for the most PGA Tour events played by a woman. Can you guess how many events she has played in?
From 2004 to 2008, Michelle Wie played in 8 PGA tournaments, competing against the men. The craziest part was that she was only 14 years old in 2004, so this was a 4 year stretch where she was just a teenager playing in these PGA events from age 14 to age 18.
Her first event came in the 2004 Sony Open in Hawaii as a determine 14 year old to show the world she had skill and golf was something women could compete at with men.
Her first two rounds at the Sony open were solid, producing a 140 score, which included a 68 in her second round. This 68 was the lowest score ever by a woman in a PGA Tour event.
Despite a solid two days of play, her 140 score was not good enough to make the cut.
In her next 7 attempts, she would also fail to make any cuts at any of these PGA events.
Wie also attempted to qualify for the 2006 Men’s US Open which she failed to qualify for.
Lexi Thompson is the most recent to attempt to make a cut at a PGA event as a female golfer. She entered play at the Shriner Children’s Open which is a tournament that benefits the Children’s Shriner Hospital so it was for a great cause.
She started off Day 1 scoring 2 over par on the Par 70 golf course. On Day 2, she got herself on a role making several birdies and at one point was 4-under par (-4) on her round of golf.
However, as pressure mounted down the finishing holes she would go on to bogey 2 of her last 4 holes including a missed 6 foot birdie putt on 18 to finish with a 2-under par, 69 for round 2.
This would finish her at +1 for the tournament and she missed the cut by 3 strokes.
Despite missing the cut, it was great for golf to have Lexi Thompson competing in a PGA tournament as it inspired others on what is possible. She was definitely in contention to be the first woman to make a cut and we’ll see if she enters more tournaments in the future!
Overall, these are 5 historic names in the golf world of women who were successful at golf on the women’s tour and further cemented their names in history by attempting the unthinkable and compete against the men on the PGA.
It’s awesome to witness when women attempt to compete in the men’s PGA tournaments just like it’s fun to watch teenagers (Spieth in high school playing PGA events). Hopefully we see more talented women golfers attempt their luck at the PGA.
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