A 22-year-old professional golfer has had to defend herself from alleged criticism that she was invited to the prestigious Omega Dubai Ladies Masters tournament for her model looks rather than actual skill.
Colorado-native Paige Spirinac, who turned professional in August after graduating from San Diego State University, is also an Instagram sensation with her over 500,000 followers. The tournament in Dubai was her first professional tournament as she tours for the LPGA.
While no other athlete has officially come out to complain, her internet fame leads many to believe she was invited for her looks and poses off the golf course.
Now, she feels she must defend herself from her critics through the skill of her game, despite her less than stellar debut. Spirinac told The Telegraph:
“I understand where they are coming from. I mean, I’ve played golf and have 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.”
“But I wish they could see that I’m working as hard as I can. I may make it, I may not make it. But I’m just trying to focus on what I need to do to get to the next level and trying not to focus on what they say.”
“I am so glad to have it out of the way. I wouldn’t say I was dreading this, but certainly was nervous and anxious thinking about this for the last couple of months. So, to have it kind of over, it’s a relief and I am really excited about my second round.”
Spirinac is currently ranked 101 on the leaderboard with a score of 156 after two rounds, scoring 77 and 79, respectively, missing the cut off to continue playing in the tournament. By comparison, the best first round was shot by two golfers, Liz Young and Carmen Alonso, who scored 66.
China’s Shanshan Feng currently holds the no. 1 spot with a score of 137 after golfing 67 in the first two rounds. There are a total of four rounds in the tournament.
Veteran golfer Laura Davies, who currently holds the no. 2 spot on the leaderboard, is a 20-time LPGA Tour event winner. Speaking on the controversy surrounding Spirinac, the British golfer defended the young golfer’s right to compete:
“I don’t know her from a bar of soap. I’ve obviously heard what some of the players have said, but I’ve not met her. I saw her last night at the party, but didn’t speak to her.”
“Everyone needs a chance and if she’s a good player, then I think it’s great she’s here. If she’s here for any other reason than she’s a great golfer, then it’s a little bit pointless. But we have to give her a chance.”