Changes should avert Roe replay

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The Independent Online

The way Tiger Woods is playing at the moment may not be wholly recognisable, but the recorders at this year's Open Championship will no longer have to ask one of the most famous sportsmen on the planet who he is.

New arrangements for the recording of scores during the Open were announced yesterday by the Royal and Ancient after the disqualification of Mark Roe at Royal St George's last year.

Roe was thrown out of the championship after he and Jesper Parnevik filled in the wrong scorecards during the third round. The mistake was not noticed until later in the afternoon and cost the 41-year-old from Sheffield a chance to contend for the claret jug on the final day when he would have played alongside Woods.

Among the complaints of the players in the past were that there were too many people in the scorers' hut and that they were asked daft questions such as: "Are you Tiger Woods?"

From now on only the players and two recorders will be in the scoring hut while the scorers will be drawn not from the host club as in the past but from the "younger and more numerate" members of the R&A. The terms are relative. Among the new pool of five recorders will be a 50-something former Walker Cup captain, but he is an accountant.

"We do not think it is right for the local club members to be on the front line where players are letting off steam," said David Pepper, chairman of the championship committee.

Once the players have checked their cards, the final aural confirmation will be the more congenial: "Tiger, 71, do you agree?" The new arrangements were examined in detail at the R&A's annual Open press briefing, with one official even revealing that "the hut will be a different shape".

The chances of a woman playing in the Open remains a theoretical possibility for the future only, with the championship conditions stating that only males competitors are eligible. But with women playing in men's tour events, it could be that someone could qualify who is not deemed fit to play.

There are four tournaments, including the Scottish Open and the Western Open in America, where the leading player, not otherwise exempt, will qualify. So far, no woman has made the cut in a European or US Tour event, despite impressive showing by Annika Sorenstam and the 14-year-old Michelle Wie.

"We would never say never but this is a situation we are watching," Peter Dawson, chief executive of the new corporate R&A. "If a woman gained an exemption at one of these events, it is something the Championship Committee would have to consider carefully. There remains a difference in strength and physique between men and women and why should golf be any different from other sports where they compete separately."

Prize-money for this year's Open will increase slightly to £4m, with a first prize of £720,000, a rise of three per cent in sterling terms, but 21 per cent in dollar terms due to the shift in the exchange rate. Royal Troon has added only 83 yards to the course, but will rely on fiendishly placed bunkers and a north-west wind for its defence.

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