Pro golfer Paige Spiranac claims she gets death threats for showing her cleavage

Golfer Paige Spiranac reveals she had death threats and was blackmailed — as she denied being a glamorous “gimmick.”

Spiranac has 1.2 million Instagram followers and believes she is treated unfairly for being a woman who dresses differently in a sport dominated by middle-aged men. The 24-year-old is ranked outside the top 1,000 and, with few top-level opportunities in the US, the spotlight was turned on her in Dubai.

But that attention — plus all her videos and photos on Instagram — helped send Spiranac’s critics on social media into overdrive.

“I was harassed, my family was harassed. I was receiving death threats, people were invading my privacy, I was being blackmailed. This was going on while I was trying to play,” Spiranac told the Guardian. “When it comes to the golf industry, I know that people see me as a gimmick. I don’t think I am. If I was a guy and I had the same social following, I don’t think people would call it a gimmick. They’d say it was great. People seem to think I got where I am because of the clothes that I wear. That’s unfair to me and unfair to all of my accomplishments. I probably do more community service than any other professional golfer.

“For people to say ‘You only show some cleavage, that’s why you have what you have’ is unfair. That’s the injustice that we face every day as women and I see it a lot in golf. It’s such a male-dominated sport, it has been around for so long and there are traditions. People like their traditions without change.

“When someone comes in wearing leggings instead of trousers, it is like the world is ending. I have always had a different fashion style. I always felt like I never belonged and it is tough because I am a good player, I know what to do but I still don’t like going to new clubs because I am worried someone will say my skirt is too short or I don’t have a collar. Why does that even matter?”

Spiranac admitted that missing the cut in Dubai’s Ladies European Tour events in 2015 and 2016 put even more strain on her.

“I had a really rough go of it both times I was here,” Spiranac said. “There was a lot of media, it was really stressful and I found the experience really hard. I said I wasn’t coming back to play.”

But she returned last week for the Dubai Desert Classic, where promoters took advantage of her celebrity by making her the tournament starter.

“The people who are saying golf is progressive, if you look at them, they all look the same,” Spiranac said. “They are all middle-aged men. They obviously feel accepted. When you go to a golf course and look around, you see a bunch of guys, everyone looks like you, so you are going to feel great. If you are walking in as a woman, you don’t feel the same.”

This article originally appeared on The Sun