Open to send letter luring female players to the tee

Talk about a change of heart. After 145 years of refusing to allow the fairer sex to play in their precious Open Championship, the Royal and Ancient revealed itself yesterday to be now seemingly just as desperate to have a female entrant. It did so by admitting that it is considering sending out letters to the leading women players reminding them that they can now try to qualify.

"We did not open it up to them last year hoping women would not enter," said the Royal & Ancient chief executive, Peter Dawson, at Hoylake, the Liverpool course that will host its first Open in 39 years from 20 to 23 July.

"Having done that, it will be a shame if they do not take advantage. Maybe we should write to them individually."

It is highly doubtful, however, that the R&A will be troubling the Royal Mail this year, despite the fact that with just five weeks before the 1 June deadline for entries not a single women has taken up the historic chance.

Michelle Wie and Annika Sorenstam have already stated that they will be passing up the offer and their LPGA Tour colleagues who also meet the criterion of having finished in the top five at any of the four women's majors are likewise expected to decline.

Their apparent indifference is born not only of the qualifiers clashing with the Women's World Match Play but also because of the huge odds stacked against them because of the R&A's insistence that they enter at the very first stages of the qualifying procedure, in which usually more than 1,500 set out in the forlorn hope of gaining one of the dozen or so spots on offer.

Dawson was adamant yesterday that the women's route will not be made any easier in the foreseeable future. The male-only club is not yet that desperate.

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