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Suzy Whaley to play in PGA Tour event

Suzy Whaley will become the first woman to qualify and play in a men's PGA Tour event when she features in the Greater Hartford Open next July, the USPGA has said on its website.

Whaley qualified for the tournament by winning the PGA Connecticut Sectional in September, the first woman to do so.

She used the front tees, meaning she played a course 10 percent shorter than the men, at Ellington Ridge Country Club.

At the Greater Hartford Open, she will play from the same tees as the men.

"It's a lot longer than I'm used to playing," Whaley said. "I'm going to do it anyway. I'm going to do it the best I possibly can, and that's going to have to be good enough.

"I took a long time to make this decision," the 36-year-old said. "I understand the historical implications of this decision, and the importance it has for women golfers."

PGA Tour spokesman Bob Combs said: "Suzy has notified the Tour of her intentions to play. As we've said all along, if she chose to play we'd be delighted to welcome her as a contestant, and we look forward to having her in the field at next year's event."

The event will be held from July 21-27 at the Tournament Players Club at River Highlands in Cromwell, where Whaley's husband, Bill, is the general manager.

Whaley is following in the illustrious footsteps of Babe Zaharias, who became the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event when she entered the Los Angeles Open in 1938.

Zaharias, who as Didrikson won gold medals in javelin and the 80 metres hurdles plus a high jump silver at the age of 18 in the 1932 Olympics, was a supreme all-round sportswoman. She also excelled at tennis, basketball, softball and baseball.

She took up golf in 1935, winning the second event -- this time for women -- that she entered.

In the Los Angeles Open Zaharias shot 84 and 81 and failed to make the cut.

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