GOLF: Transsexual to play in the British Open

THE TRANSSEXUAL golfer Mianne Bagger will be able to compete in the women's British Open at Royal Birkdale this summer.

The Ladies' Golf Union, which runs the championship, has finalised a gender policy document so it is no longer restricted to players who are female at birth.

Bagger was born a man in Copenhagen in 1966 and was a four-handicapper when she began her transformation in 1992. A sex-change operation came three years later and she resumed playing in 1998. After turning professional in 2003 she came through the women's European Tour qualifying school at the end of last season and can now enter the qualifying tournament for the Open on 28 to 31 July.

Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo could both be named as future European Ryder Cup captains next month following Bernhard Langer's decision not to seek a second term.

Woosnam is believed to be the choice of the tour players' committee, who meet in Dubai on 1 March. The committee could break with tradition and earmark captains for future matches to avoid "campaigning" for the position.

l A prize-winning athlete who took part in women's events was actually a man, a court in Zimbabwe was told yesterday. Samukaliso Sithole, competed in women's triple jump, javelin, shot-put and running events, and brought home Zimbabwe's only gold medal from the Southern Region Championships in Botswana last June. Sithole told the court he was born congenitally deformed. A tribal healer gave him "female status," but the spell did not work properly because his family failed to pay the healer's full fee, he said.

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