November 03, 2011
A few weeks ago, we floated the speculation that Yani Tseng could follow in the footsteps of Michelle Wie and Annika Sorenstam and attempt to play in a PGA Tour event. Tseng brings impeccable credentials -- an astonishing 11 tournaments won this year, for instance -- and now, the idea has gained momentum across golf. But will Yani herself sign off on it?
The Puerto Rico Open has jumped into the story with the news that it will offer Tseng an exemption into its 2012 tournament, scheduled for March 8-11. And Tseng herself told the China News Agency earlier this week that "if the opportunity presents itself, I would like to play in a PGA tournament to learn more from male golfers."
Consider the opportunity presented. The Puerto Rico Open is part of a dual-tourney week, with most of the Tour's top players likely to be at Doral for the WGC-Cadillac Championship. And that's important, because it knocks the pins out of one of the most ridiculous and tired arguments against bringing in certain X-factors for sponsors' exemptions: the idea that Tseng would be taking a place away from a "more deserving" male player. The argument is willfully naive; a high-profile player jumping the line does get precedence over an anonymous, grind-it-out pro. That's the way the real world works. But this isn't like a major (lower-case "m") tournament; Tseng would be taking a space from a male player with much less regard. Sorry, hypothetical dude losing your hypothetical spot.
The question, of course, is whether Tseng really will take the plunge. Tseng's adviser Ernie Huang appeared to shoot down the idea in an interview with Golfweek: "We appreciate that Puerto Rico has responded so soon, but she has more goals to accomplish, such as completing the Grand Slam and qualifying for the Hall of Fame. To play on PGA Tour now will be too much distraction for her."
Perhaps, perhaps not. This is a no-lose situation for Yani; the only thing at risk is her time and her sanity during the period of heavy scrutiny. It would be an astonishing opportunity, and this is exactly the right time. She and her team should give the idea serious consideration.
Golfweek noted that Trump International Golf Club - Puerto Rico, the host of the Open, plays about 7,200 yards during the tournament, while LPGA courses play about 6,500 yards.