Thursday, December 10, 2015

Female pro golfer Paige Spiranac suffers thorns of social media fame, begs for time

Now it is the turn of American golfer Paige Spiranac to feel the other side of the double-edged sword of game by the social media route.
Last Thursday, Spiranac, pictured in action right, felt obliged to defend herself against the critics who suggest she has been invited to play in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters only because of her looks and social media presence.
Spiranac, 22, has almost half a million followers on Instagram and has been billed as an "internet sensation" - her trick shots video has amassed more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.
In July, one American magazine dubbed her "the hottest female athlete on Earth" and after she turned pro in August it was inevitable that sponsors would be drawn to her, despite her not having a card on any tour.
However, there were eyebrows raised when she was invited to the fourth most valuable tournament on the Ladies European Tour, and although no players have yet gone on record to voice their dissent, there has been unrest on the range that she has taken the spot from more worthy candidates.
Spiranac, a former gymnast, was a good amateur but not considered among the elite, being ranked outside the top 300 in the US college standings.
Spiranac recognises the concerns of the critics, but is determined to prove her worth. "I understand where they are coming from. I've had good results, but when you look at my game compared to the top players in the world, I'm not in the same league," she said.
"But I wish they could see that I'm working as hard as I can. I may make it, I may not. But I'm just trying to focus on what I need to do to get to the next level, and not on what they say."
Laura Davies, who is second after a four-under 68, two shots behind fellow Englishwoman Liz Young, had heard the grumblings, but reserved judgment.
"I don't know her from a bar of soap," Davies said. "I've heard what some players have said, but I've not met her. Everyone needs a chance and if she's a good player, then it's great she's here.
"But If she's here for any other reason than she's a great golfer, then it's a bit pointless."
At five-over, Spiranac ended the day in a tie for 94th in a 108-strong field, with some notable names below her. Spiranac is under no illusion about why she is in the event, but is unashamed in using her growing fame to help her reach her ambitions.
"Please be nice to me," she said to reporters after her first round. "I know 77 is not the best score, but I broke 80, and people were putting bets on it last night. They were saying I wasn't going to, so at least I got that going for me.
"I'm grateful to be here because of social media. I never sought this invite out. It just came to me. I'm very fortunate I have these followers. It's a gateway to help my professional golf career.
"That's really what I want to do, play golf."