Nov
2
2011
Puerto Rico Open PR Stunt: Tourney to Invite Yani to Play With the Men
By Stephanie Wei under LPGA

Yani

Yani Tseng, the No. 1 ranked women’s golfer who has dominated this season with 11 worldwide wins, revealed to reporters after the second round of last week’s tournament (which she eventually won) that she would be interested in playing in a PGA Tour event to learn from the big boys. She may get her shot next March at the Puerto Rico Open, which is held the same week as the WGC at Doral.

Sidney Wolf, the tournament’s general chairman, intends to offer Tseng an exemption into his event in 2012, according to Golfweek’s Sean Martin:

Wolf told Golfweek, “Having the No. 1 player here would open our event to a broader audience. It could open up the possibilty of a LPGA event here, and ultimately help us raise funds for our charities. It would also creates awareness of Puerto Rico globally, which would economically be very positive for the island.”

Wolf, also the president of the Puerto Rico Golf Association, has long been trying to increase visibility for his event, which began in 2008.

Trump International Golf Club – Puerto Rico, which hosts the Puerto Rico Open, is listed at 7,569 yards, but plays about 7,200 yards during the tournament, Wolf said. LPGA courses typically play about 6,500 yards. Trump International’s scorecard scorecard lists six par-4s that are 448 yards or longer, but the course has relatively few forced carries, Wolf said.

“It would a great honor to have Yani play here during the celebration of our fifth anniverasy of the Puerto Rico Open,” Wolf said. “She has the length to compete, and being that she lives in Florida she is used to the wind.”

Yani leads the LPGA this season in driving distance, averaging 268.9 yards — which is equivalent to the 186th-ranked player on the men’s tour, Brian Gay, who has won three-career PGA Tour titles.

Obviously, women playing with the men has sparked controversy and strong opinions in the past. When former world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam was invited to play at Colonial in 2003, Vijay Singh threatened to withdraw if he happened to be paired with her, saying “She doesn’t belong out here” and “It’s just different for ladies to play on the men’s tour. It’s like getting the Williams sisters to play (tennis) against a man, and they’re far better athletes than she (Sorenstam) is.”

Annika shot 71-74 and missed the cut by four shots.

If Yani decides the PR Open would be a good fit, then I say go for it. I have no problem with Yani teeing it up on the PGA Tour and seeing how her game matches up to her male colleagues, especially after she’s had arguably one of the best seasons in the history of women’s golf. Check that — I’d love for Yani to play in a men’s event (not sure if PR Open is right tourney…). Plus, I think she’d fare pretty well and make the cut.

(AP Photo/Wally Santana)