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British Open May Drop Ban on Women

February 16, 2005

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) _ The British Open is considering dropping its ban on female golfers so the likes of Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie could compete if they wished.

The 145-year-old championship is organized by the Royal and Ancient Club. Current rules state that the tournament, played this year at St. Andrews, is open to ``any male professional or from a male amateur golfer whose playing handicap does not exceed scratch.″

No woman has competed at golf’s four majors _ the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA. The three majors in the United States have no policy barring women.

Royal and Ancient Club chief executive Peter Dawson said Wednesday a rule change to delete the word ``male″ was ``under consideration″ by the club’s championship committee.

Dawson was recently quoted as saying the rule was in place because it was thought women, who have their own tours and majors, wouldn’t want to enter the men’s Open.

``If (the ban) really offends people then we would take it out,″ he told the Guardian newspaper. ``In this instance, the wording isn’t serving any purpose, so I would support taking it out.″

``Not that I want to see the Open as a dual-sex event because golf at the elite level is not being played like that,″ he added. ``That wording was put in place at a time when it was never thought that women would want to enter. The R&A is not in the business of keeping women out of the Open.″

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