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LPGA players not excited about British Open

Although the British Open is now open to women, don't get the idea the Royal & Ancient rolled out the red carpet.

Because there was difficulty comparing handicaps between genders and the length of courses they play, the R&A decreed that only women who finished among the top five in the LPGA majors would be eligible for the first stage of 18-hole qualifying. If they get through that, they can go to the 36-hole final stage.

The news didn't generate much of interest on the LPGA Tour.

Sophie Gustafson is the biggest hitter in women's golf. She played the Casio World Open in Japan two years ago and was leading after nine holes, but eventually missed the cut. Because of her power, the Swede would be among the few with a realistic chance at Open qualifying.

``The British would be fun to play, but the first stage would be too much hassle for me to do,'' Gustafson said in an e-mail interview. ``I have my own schedule I'm trying to manage, and going to England for 18 holes of golf to maybe get into the (final) qualifying wouldn't excite me very much.''

Michelle Wie's father said she might try it, but only if it fits into their schedule.

``If we're flying back from Asia or somewhere,'' B.J. Wie said.

Annika Sorenstam has shown no interest in competing on the men's tour since she played at Colonial two years ago. She also questioned the distances women would have to travel.

``Maybe somebody from Britain will go,'' Sorenstam said. ``They don't have to travel far.''

Gustafson said more women might be interested if it were 36 holes and played the week before the British Open. But even then, she said women would have to be motivated to tee it up against the men.

``I guess what it boils down to is that the women who are eligible to actually qualify have their own agenda, and trying to get to the 36-hole qualifying probably isn't very high on their list,'' she said. ``I think if you are Michelle Wie and can go and play wherever you like and don't have to worry about the money list ... it would be a fun thing to do.

``I just don't have a week to spare just to try to get into the 36-hole qualifying.''

October 26, 2005

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