The PGA Tour is widely accepted as the most lucrative golf tour, which also leads to it being the most competitive golf tour on the planet. While many would assume that the PGA Tour was a men’s only tour, there are in fact no gender requirements for the Tour. As the women’s game has progressed there have been several examples of women being invited to compete in a PGA Tour event, with a few qualifying outright. In all, 6 women have competed alongside men on the PGA Tour, though only 1 has ever made a cut.
The most recent woman to play a PGA Tour event was Brittany Lincicome at the 2018 Barbasol Championship. The 8-time LPGA Tour winner was the first woman to play a men’s event in a decade but got off to a difficult start, shooting a first round 78. She rallied on the second day shooting 1 under par with a score of 71. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for Lincicome to make the cut.
Michelle Wie has played in a record 8 PGA Tour events on sponsorship exemptions. The golfing prodigy made a name for herself early, qualifying for the women’s USGA Amateur Championship at 10 and had already made the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open at 13. At 14, Wie was invited to play the 2004 Sony Open, where she shot a second round 68 (the lowest of any woman playing a PGA Tour event) and missed the cut by only 1 stroke. It would be the best finish she had in a PGA Tour event, as she failed to make the cut in 3 more Sony Opens, 2 John Deere Classics, the 2006 84 Lumber Classic and the 2008 Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, her last PGA Tour Event. However, Wie did make the cut on the Asian Tour, becoming the second woman to do so.
Suzy Whaley was a club professional in Connecticut who qualified for the 2003 Greater Hartford Open by winning the 2002 Connecticut PGA Championship. The qualification was with some controversy as Whaley played the Connecticut PGA Championship from the women’s tees while the men played from the championship tees. The controversy led to a rule change for all further PGA events that all competitors must play from the same tees. Nevertheless, Whaley still performed well enough in the Greater Hartford Open, carding 75 and 78 to miss the cut.
One of the greatest golfers of the women’s game, Sorenstam would eventually amass an amazing 72 LPGA Tour wins. She received a sponsor’s invitation to the 2003 Bank of America Colonial, held in Ft. Worth. Sorenstam became the first female golfer in 51 years to compete on the PGA Tour when she teed off with a generally favorable crowd. She ended the first round at +1, though she was tied for first in driving accuracy. She shot a disappointing +4 on the second round and ended up missing the cut. Sorenstam decided she didn’t like the spectacle of playing with men, and subsequently turned down further invitations to compete in other PGA Tour events.
One of the founders of the LPGA Tour, Shirley Spork was also the second woman to ever play in a PGA Tour event. She never won an LPGA Tour event but is widely regarded as one of the greatest teachers in the history of the women’s game. She was invited to play the 1952 Northern California-Reno Open, an event that did not have a cut. She ended up in 105th, certainly not as high as she wanted but also not in last place.
Arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time, Babe Zaharias was an excellent basketball player, held 2 Olympic gold medals from the 1932 Olympics, and won 55 golf tournaments throughout her career. She was also the first woman to play a PGA Tour event and is still the only woman to ever make a cut on the PGA Tour. She shocked fans when she qualified for the 1938 Los Angeles Open. She qualified again in 1945 and became the first woman to make the cut. She would make 2 more cuts 1945, finishing 33rd at the Phoenix Open and 42nd at the Tucson Open. Zaharias played her last PGA Tour event at the 1946 Los Angeles Open where she did not make the cut. She would go on to be one of the founders of the LPGA and an icon in women's sport.