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Firsts for women at the Old Course

The Old Course at St. Andrews is giving women's golf a new look.

The Women's British Open is set for Aug. 2-5 at the home of golf, the first championship at the Old Course for female professionals.

"For the women's game, it's another step forward," Ladies Golf Union chief executive officer Lesley Burn said Wednesday. "The profile of the Women's British Open in the world of golf continues to rise."

The men's event has been played on The Old Course 27 times, last in 2005 when Tiger Woods won the claret jug.

The Women's British Open has been a major since 2001, and previously has been played at some of the country's top links courses, including Turnberry, Royal Lytham and Royal Birkdale.

And besides playing on The Old Course, the women also will use the men's clubhouse -- another first.

"The event itself has been brought to the Old Course," Burn said. "The Old Course is a public course. It is everybody's course. And we have been granted the use of the clubhouse as well."

The Old Course is the headquarters of the male-only Royal & Ancient Golf Club, the sport's governing body outside the United States and Mexico. It has hosted amateur events for women in the past.

At the last men's British Open, the course was stretched to more than 7,000 yards. For the women, it will be a tournament-record 6,638 yards with a par of 73. The 17th hole, known as the Road Hole, will be stretched to 453 yards as a par-5.

Next year's Curtis Cup, the women's amateur competition featuring Britain and Ireland and the United States, will also be at The Old Course.

Paula Creamer played a practice round at the course last week.

"It was one of the best golfing moments of my career," she said. "And I can't wait to return in August."


May 3, 2007

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