After Norway’s big hitting Suzann Pettersen took the first round lead in the Australian Open, she boasted -with a seriously misplaced confidence of how the tournament would unfold -that she had always preferred to measure her game against that of the men.
Suzann would eventually finish tied for 28th behind Karrie Webb, who has now won her national Open 5 times. She has also won 7 Majors.
There are two points to make here, not counting a possible third: that Suzann should remember tournaments run 4 rounds and comments made after the first can return to haunt.
One, that Karrie has the most impressive record (and game) of any Australian golfer. We have followed her professional and personal journey from Ayr to the world’s best courses; from a shy, reserved country girl uncomfortable with the spotlight to a mature and pleasant ambassador for the game she loves and plays so well.
My late friend, Norman Von Nida (himself one of our finest) made no secret of his admiration for Karrie and her status as the best we’ve produced – male or female. Gender was simply not an issue, which leads to the second point.
Suzann Pettersen makes a terrible mistake in seeking to test her game against that of the men. It is a futile exercise and based on a false assumption. Sugar Ray Leonard might well be the best boxer of all time but he wouldn’t last two rounds with Ali or Tyson. Power is not all.
Annika Sorenstam (one of the finest female players of all time) learned this the hard way, proving just one thing when she played and failed against the men : that she could never compete with them.
But it cuts deeper. In a sense these women devalue (or ignore) the wonderful work of those in all fields of endeavour who fought hard and with great sacrifice so that those who followed might be recognised in their own right – and not in comparison to men. Many a trail has been blazed so that women might be defined on their own terms.
If Suzann truly needs to find someone against whom to measure her game she could do worse – indeed, could do no better – than to study Karrie Webb.