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Penalty Stroke for Anna Rawson
LPGA Tour player Anna Rawson finds herself in damage control mode this week after making some controversial comments about lesbianism in women's professional golf. The Australian native has caused a big stir in her home country where she made her remarks.
Last week during the ANZ Ladies Masters tournament in Australia, Rawson was asked in a radio interview about the current state of women's professional golf and how the women's game is perceived by the public. This is the comment that has gotten her in trouble and has the golf world buzzing:
"The tour has got so much better with so many young stars and great players. But the mentality, unfortunately, amongst the media and the industry hasn't changed. They still think we're at 25 years ago, you know, when the tour was full of, you know, a lot of dykes and unattractive females that nobody wanted to watch. It's totally changed but they still won't give us TV time."
The 27-year old Rawson, who splits her time between professional golf and modeling, has a home in Los Angeles. Sports Illustrated listed her as one of sports top 10 hottest athletes in 2008. On Friday, she broke down in tears following a press conference at the Australian tournament in which she tried to explain her comments, claiming she was not trying to offend anyone.
"I was making a reference to how I feel society sees women's golf as a whole. I don't believe that. I wouldn't want anyone to think that was my opinion and I am sorry I said that, definitely. I was making a reference to how women make seven times less than men on the course and 20 to 25 times less on the sponsorship front. It's amazing how women's golf has grown and we have many great young players out here, yet society and the media haven't really caught onto that. That's what I was talking about; I wasn't talking about my opinion at all."
Rawson has received a lot of criticism in Australia for her statements. Warren Sevill, the chief executive of the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Association, was quoted as saying: "She was not misunderstood. She said it. She did not preface her statement with it being the opinion of society so it had to be perceived as her comment. From my perspective it's disappointing because she made those comments."
Despite the flap, Rawson continued playing in the ANZ Ladies Masters event. She finished the tournament in a tie for 10th place, shooting 8-under par over the four-day event.
This week she will be competing in the first LPGA event of the 2009 season; the SBS Open at Turtle Bay in Hawaii. It is almost certain Rawson will be asked again to clarify her controversial comments when she encounters American golf writers who cover the LPGA Tour. It's also likely that LPGA executives will want to talk with Rawson about her remarks.
Dave Andrews is a Harvard-educated former television news reporter. He's also an avid golfer who has become a fan of the Duramed Futures Tour. His home course in Concord, N.H., is annually the site of one of the tour's events. The inspiration for Dave's 2007 novel, "Pops and Sunshine," came from meeting many of the young aspiring women golfers on that tour. Each of them has a passion, dedication and determination that he finds remarkable. His novel is a fictionalization of the dream that these young women share. To order Dave's book, visit http://popsandsunshine.com.