Truth & Rumors: Monty warns Westwood about Tiger, Transgender golfer sues LPGA

Wednesday October 13th, 2010

Fair Warning By all reports, at the end of the month Lee Westwood will be the number one ranked golfer in the world. According to KansasCity.com, Colin Montgomerie doesn't think his Ryder Cup Star should get too comfortable at the top.

Europe’s winning Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has warned his star player Lee Westwood to expect a backlash from Tiger Woods when he takes away his position as the world’s number one golfer.

However Montgomerie says that Westwood has got to expect an immediate response when Woods gets to Shanghai.

“He won’t like being number two at anything and he’ll come out fighting, which is great for the tournament, fantastic for the event,” said the 47-year-old Scotsman, talking at a HSBC Charity Golf Day in Hong Kong to raise money for the children’s charity UNICEF.

“Knowing Tiger as I do he’ll probably go out and win the HSBC World Golf event, you’ve got to think that. He came out and played superbly in the (Ryder Cup) singles match. He was two down after two (holes) against Francesco Molinari and then was nine-under for the next 11 holes. It was incredible golf! When he’s spurred on like that there’s nobody better. I think it’s great for the tournament, having to have Woods win. I think he won’t be far away from doing so, but it’s a great, great, strong field again.”
Obviously Monty is doing his best to hype this tournament, but that doesn't mean he's lying. If there's one thing we've learned about Tiger over the years, it's that he is among the most ruthless competitors in sports (don't believe me, ask Stephen Ames). Tiger's focus was all over the place this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if getting knocked out of the top spot is the best thing that's ever happened to his game. Tiger's swing may still not be in perfect form in China, but expect that fire to be back in his eyes. From the course to the courts The story of the morning comes from the New York Times, where Katie Thomas reports on a legal challenege to the LPGA's gender requirements:

Lana Lawless, a 57-year-old retired police officer who had gender-reassignment surgery in 2005, made her name as an athlete in 2008 after winning the women’s world championship in long-drive golf with a 254-yard drive into a headwind. But this year, Lawless was ruled ineligible in the same championship because Long Drivers of America, which oversees the competition, changed its rules to match the policy of the L.P.G.A. Lawless wrote a letter in May asking for permission to apply for L.P.G.A. qualifying tournaments and was told by a tour lawyer that she would be turned down.

“It’s an issue of access and opportunity,” Lawless said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I’ve been shut out because of prejudice.”

She is also suing Long Drivers of America, two of its corporate sponsors — Dick’s Sporting Goods and Re/Max — and CVS, the sponsor of the L.P.G.A. Challenge, which begins Thursday in Danville, Calif.

Lawless said she had no competitive edge over other female golfers. The reassignment surgery removed her testes, and her hormones and muscle strength are in line with someone who was genetically female, she said. According to her birth certificate, she is a woman. “It doesn’t say ‘female-ish,’ ” Lawless said. “There is no such thing as born female. Either you’re female, or you’re not.”
Clearly this is a loaded topic with a lot of angles. The LPGA (as with nearly every other organization) has a set of rules regarding eligibility, and, in general I think they've done a very good job making golf more accessible to women all over the world. But it is increasingly important that major sports leagues not only keep up with the changing world, but sometimes lead it (particularly a sport like golf which has such a marked history of exclusion).
I can't really blame the LPGA for playing it safe--it seems like there is no side of this issue that they can take and come out ahead with Lawless, their own players and a diverse fan base. The USGA and Ladies Euro Tour have already allowed transgendered players to enter tournaments, so the LPGA can carefully gauge how much of an impact transgendered golfers might have on competition. In the meantime, I think Lawless should consider trying something even more extreme. The PGA Tour does not have a gender policy, and I don't think the Champions Tour does, either. While it would be much more difficult for her to compete, I think it would be great for Lawless to try to find an open-minded sponsor to give her an exemption to play in one of the smaller Tour events. That way, if Lawless does win her lawsuit (or if the LPGA changes its policy), she will have already had a chance to let American golf fans get to know her. Daly Prayers Speaking of sponsor's exemptions, Kevin Merfeld of Norther California's Mercury News caught up with John Daly to talk about the Frys.com Open, where the struggling Lion will be fighting to keep his Tour card this weekend:

The shoulder strap on Daly's golf bag reads: "GRIP IT N' RIP IT." He has been called Long John since he burst on the scene in 1991 with his long-shot victory at the PGA Championship, hitting it a country mile while conquering Crooked Stick Golf Club.

But Daly hasn't won since 2004, which is why he finds himself this week at the Frys.com Open, a Fall Series event that caters to players fighting to keep or earn their PGA Tour card.

Daly, 44, lost his card in 2006, and he is once again looking up at the crucial 125th spot on the money list. To earn his tour card, he must finish among the top 125. He sits in the 195th spot with two Fall Series tournaments on his schedule. "If I were to win one, it would make the year really a lot better," Daly said Monday.

"I've put a lot of work into my game, I just really haven't gotten anything out of it. It'd be great to end the year with something good."

Daly has made 12 of 18 cuts this season, but he only has one top-40 finish. He needs to earn at least $550,000 in the next two weeks to gain full playing status for next year.
Is it shameful for me to admit that I still love John Daly? I know we've been through this scenario before: "John Daly's cleaned up his act, he just needs one more chance!" In fact, I've been a victim myself. A few years ago I interviewed Daly, and we talked at length about coming back from injury, about how he was in his best shape in years, about how unbelievably happy he was to be able to finally compete again. Two weeks later he was found "extremely intoxicated" in front of a Hooters. Needless to say, that interview didn't make our next issue. And yet...I still love John Daly!
 
 

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