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Ricoh new sponsor of Women's British Open

For the first time in 20 years, the Women's British Open has a new title sponsor.

Global office equipment company Ricoh will supplant breaded goods maker Weetabix, signing a three-year deal beginning in 2008, the LPGA announced Tuesday.

Based in Japan, Ricoh signed a three-year deal. Next year's tournament is almost certain to be at Sunningdale, with the 2009 and 2010 events definitely at Royal Lytham and Royal Birkdale.

Record crowds approaching 100,000 are expected this summer at St. Andrews, Scotland, considered the birthplace of golf. American star Paula Creamer played a practice round there last week.

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

"It is great to hear Ricoh has committed to this historic tournament," said superstar Annika Sorenstam, currently out with a back injury. "With all the rising stars of Asia, it is not surprising a leading international company such as Ricoh would be keen to title sponsor a major."

The news also was welcomed by the heads of the women's tours in America and Europe.

"The tournament is played on some of the world's most famous courses and showcases many of the greatest golfers in the world," LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens said.

"It's great news for our tour," Ladies European Tour executive director Alex Armas said.

This year's event is expected to have a purse of more than $2 million. St. Andrews will play at 6,638 yards, considerably shorter than the 7,000-plus it was in 2005, when Tiger Woods won the British Open.

It also will be a par 73 rather than the men's 72, with the formidable Road Hole - the 17th - becoming a par-5 measuring 453 yards.


May 3, 2007

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