GOLF: Wie accepts invitation to play in the British Open

THE TEENAGE prodigy Michelle Wie has accepted an invitation to play in the British Open at Royal Birkdale in July.

"We have followed Michelle's development over the last two years with great interest and admiration and in particular her performance in major championships," Andy Salmon, the chief executive officer of the Ladies' Golf Union, said. "We have no doubt that she is ready to compete with the world's best players at Royal Birkdale."

It will be the 15-year-old's second competitive appearance in the British Isles. She helped America win the Curtis Cup at Formby last June, winning both her singles.

Wie is one of five amateurs given exemptions to compete, the others include her Curtis Cup team-mate Jane Park, the Briton Clare Queen and the Spanish 14-year-old Carlota Ciganda, who was a part of Europe's winning team in the junior Ryder Cup in September.

Elsewhere Phil Mickelson, widely criticised at last year's Ryder Cup for changing driver brands a fortnight before the event, justified his decision by winning the Phoenix Open at the weekend.

The US Masters champion, who won by five strokes in Scottsdale on Sunday to claim his 24th career title, said he had to make the equipment switch to add distance to his driving. "When I had sacrificed 15 yards last year, I knew that I needed to make a change," he said.