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Women on Men's Tours not a trend

Annika Sorenstam was the first. By the end of the year, at least six women will have competed against the men on tours around the world.

The 2004 season might get underway with 14-year-old Michelle Wie at the Sony Open.

B.J. Wie, her father, said tournament sponsors are deciding this week whether to offer the teenage prodigy a sponsor's exemption at Waialaie Country Club in Honolulu, her hometown. She tried to Monday qualify last year, shot 73 and missed by seven strokes.

``She's got a good possibility, but not a final word yet,'' the father said.

Is this a sign of more gender blending in golf? PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem doesn't think so.

``I don't see a trend involved here where a lot of tournaments are going to want women golfers to play,'' Finchem said. ``I frankly don't think there are many that add much to a tournament at this point in time.''

In other words, the novelty might be wearing off.

Sorenstam sought a personal challenge and turned in a captivating performance at the Colonial, although she missed the cut by four shots. She has said repeatedly she won't play another PGA Tour event.

Suzy Whaley was the only woman to qualify, winning a PGA club pro sectional from a shorter set of tees to earn a spot in the Greater Hartford Open.

They were followed by Wie (Canadian and Nationwide tours), Laura Davies (Asian PGA Tour), Jan Stephenson (Champions Tour) and Se Ri Pak (Korean PGA Tour).

Finchem says Wie still grabs attention because of her youth and power.

``The question on everyone's mind is how far can this young gal go?'' he said.

Still, he said most PGA Tour events are looking for players who have a future on the PGA Tour or past champions hoping to regain their form.

``I don't see a big shift in the usage because of what happened,'' he said.

Meantime, B.J. Wie said in the event his daughter doesn't get an exemption to the Sony Open, she might try to Monday qualify again.

``It's a $400 entry fee,'' he said. ``But that's still cheaper than flying to the mainland.''

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