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O'Grady says women in men's events a novelty

European Tour chief George O'Grady described the concept of women playing in men's golf events as a gimmick on Sunday. But executive director O'Grady said the Tour would not try to dissuade sponsors from handing invitations to women players and called the matter a non-issue.

"We are not totally against ladies playing by invitation, we don't see much point in it," O'Grady said at his end-of-season news conference during the last day of the Volvo Masters at Valderrama.

"It's just a gimmick. It's not something we are actively promoting.

"We rule nothing out and have an open mind on women playing men's tour events, and if sponsors can convince us that it's in the interests of the game by including women, then fine," O'Grady added.

"But no-one is knocking down our door to get women into our tournaments and as far as (teenage U.S. golfer) Michelle Wie is concerned, we won't be actively going out and recruiting her."

O'Grady played down tournament committee member Jean Van de Velde's intention to apply for entry to next year's women's British Open.

Van de Velde is unhappy at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club's decision to allow women to qualify for the men's British Open.

"Jean has spoken to me but not one other pro, so it's just not an issue for us," he said.

However, O'Grady did not discount the prospect of New Zealand's Michael Campbell playing in the Ryder Cup for Europe.

"If I think it's serious, I'll think about it and might bring it to our board of directors," he said.

Campbell was made a life member of the European Tour on Saturday and said he would love to play in the Ryder Cup.

The U.S. Open champion, who has Scottish ancestry and has lived in Britain for 12 years, is considering applying for dual British/New Zealand citizenship.

O'Grady also said the European Tour was preparing plans to combat the loss of leading golfers in its tournaments in 2007, when the U.S. Player's Championship moves to a May date.

With the European Tour now co-sanctioned with events in Asia, Africa and Australasia, there could be a move to change its name to a more international title.

October 31, 2005

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