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Retief Goosen objects to exemptions for women

U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen fanned the flames of the debate on women entering men's golf events on Wednesday by saying female players should be forced to qualify.

"I think in general the players feel it's not the right thing," said the South African, who is in Beijing for the Johnnie Walker Classic. "If they qualify for the tournament, they go through qualifying school ... then it's fine. But just to keep giving invites away is probably not the right thing."

Annika Sorenstam, the top-ranked women's player, and 15-year-old prodigy Michelle Wie are among those to have competed against the men. Wie has played twice in the Sony Open on the PGA Tour after receiving sponsor exemptions and has accepted an exemption to play in the John Deere Classic in July.

Se Ri Pak became the first woman to make the cut in a men's event when she finished 10th in her native South Korea two years ago.

Several leading men's players, including Vijay Singh and Greg Norman, have also been critical of women playing on the PGA Tour.

Goosen, ranked fifth in the world, played in the Tiger Skins Game with LPGA Tour star Grace Park last weekend in Thailand. Park was playing against men for the first time there.

"It was good to get Grace to play" in the Tiger Skins, which raised money for tsunami relief aid, said Goosen nonetheless. "In a way, people want to see the ladies play with the men. (In) small events like that for charity, I think it's a good idea."

 

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