Want to feel old? Its been 10 years since Annika Sorenstam played Colonial.(Want to be angry? The price of a gallon of gas in the spring of 2003 was $1.72, a record high.)Want to be real? Baylor center Brittney Griner would get killed in the NBA.But she merits a look just the way Sorenstam once did in a PGA event.Sorenstam was at Colonial in Fort Worth on Monday to talk to The Golf Channel, which will soon air a special on her historic appearance at Hogans Alley.Ever since Sorenstam failed to make the cut at Colonial in 03, the idea of a woman playing against a man in anything has much been shelved until Mavs owner Mark Cuban recently kicked around the idea of drafting Griner. In fairness to the Mavs, selecting Griner cant be any worse than some of the teams winning draft picks, such as Pete Mickeal, Vassilis Spanoulis or those other Euro spares who couldnt play.What Sorenstams appearance taught us is that not only is the world still full of sexist pigs afraid of change cough, cough Vijay Singh, cough-cough but that we dont know until we know.It is a coincidence that on the same day Sorenstam visited Fort Worth to recount her famous two rounds that the world celebrated the life of another woman who refused to just know her place. Had Margaret Thatcher ever settled she never would have become the most respected British prime minister since Winston Churchill.The PGA, British Parliament and the NBA is not an apples-to-apples comparison.Intellectually, by now it should be safe to say a woman is every bit as competent, or incompetent, as a man. Much of it comes down to desire and the stomach to break century-old stereotypes.Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg has been railing about this as she promotes her book, Lean In.Physically, however, the differences between a male and female are just that different. Not even the most ardent feminist could make a case against this reality stand.It is a safe bet that Griner would flop in the NBA because, statistically, most of the guys never make it, either.Please spare me the sanctimonious blathering from purists that this type of gender integration threatens the integrity of the game. Once the game becomes professional the integrity is about profit and profit margin; Sorenstam was great for business and, in the process, prompted discussion and provided a solid role model.She wrote last year on her blog: I always tell people, give opportunities a try, you never know if you will get another chance. Its easy to say no and run away from new adventures, but its really hard to not to think about what it would have been like if you tried and had the courage.Lesson of the day face your fear and dare to try. You will be surprised how that moment changed your life like it did mine nine years ago.Just as Sorenstam was the very best at her game, Griner is a once-in-a-generation freak talent who may just be able to hang against dudes.Put me, however, firmly in the Dirk Nowtizki camp, who politely last week tried to say Griner couldnt do it in the NBA. He is right.The game is too quick and played above the rim. The NBA would attack her on defense in a way she has never had to contend with. The way Louisville beat her up in her career-ending loss in the Sweet 16 is pretty typical of Game 16 of an NBA season.The reason Griner is so dominant is because there is no one else in the womans game like her. Her ability to dunk is a novelty. The NBA is loaded with 6-foot-8 forwards who routinely dunk.Then there is the issue of the basketball itself, which is smaller for the womens game.But there is a reason to think Griner merits a chance; Griner is accustomed to playing against men in pickup games. She may not be the best player on the floor, but she would not embarrass herself.She is not some gangly, nonathletic stiff. Like any player, the longer she sticks around the more her game will develop. She may add a face-up 15-footer that would be mandatory for survival.Ten years later what we know is that Sorenstam did not belong in the PGA, but that does not mean that she could not play with the men. Some of the best golfers never make it to the PGA.Perhaps had she wanted, Sorenstam could have been OK on a different, lower-level tour. In the end, it made more sense to remain in the LPGA.Griner may not be able to play in the NBA, but the D-League or some pro league in Europe or Asia might be a better fit if she wanted to be OK in a mens league rather than be a star in the WNBA.Its been 10 years since we had this type of possible scenario, maybe because no female warranted the debate.We had a pretty good idea that Sorrenstam wouldnt be able to play on the PGA Tour, but we didnt know until she tried.We have a pretty good idea Griner will be crushed in the NBA, but we wont know until she tries.Like Sorrenstam one decade ago, Griner deserves her shot.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760, Twitter: @macengelprof