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Ken Schofield urges separation in golf

The arbiters of professional golf should think long and hard before deciding whether to allow teenage prodigy Michelle Wie to play on the men's tour, former European Tour executive director Ken Schofield says.

The American schoolgirl, who turns 16 next month, is expected to turn professional this year and is already one of the biggest attractions in the game.

But the Hawaiian-born teenager should concentrate on smashing records in the women's game rather than joining the men's tour, according to Schofield.

"The history of golf is of men playing men and women playing against women. That has stood the test of time so why should we change it?

"Are we talking about a civil liberty issue here, a restraint of trade? I don't think so," Schofield said.

Having made her women's tour debut aged 12, in January 2004 Wie became only the fourth female, and the youngest in history, to play on the men's U.S. PGA Tour when she missed the cut by one stroke at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

In her third crack at the men's circuit, at the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic in July, she missed the cut by two shots after dropping three strokes in the last four holes.

In Schofield's opinion, it is not Wie's ability that is in question, rather the direction the sport should take.

"There is the great history of the women's game to consider," he told Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"The U.S. Women's Open dates back to 1946 and its roll call of champions includes the likes of Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wright and of course Annika (Sorenstam).

"Attempting to add their names to that list is where all aspiring women's golfers -- Wie included -- should focus efforts.

"The structure of golf is not best served by mixing up the issues of men versus women."

The long-hitting Wie is set to compete on the Japanese men's tour in November, organisers said on Tuesday.

She will become the second female to take on the men on Japan's JGTO Tour when she plays in the Casio World Open from November 24-27.


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