Teenage sensation Michelle Wie and Women’s British Open champion Jeong Jang could both make history next year by trying to qualify for the Open Championship at Hoylake.
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club yesterday announced that players who finish in the top five in a women’s major will be allowed entry to the Open Championship regional qualifying from next year.
“Yes, I will definitely try and qualify next year if it fits into my schedule,” was Wie’s reaction.
The 16-year-old, whose dream is to play regularly alongside the men, made her statement after she had shot a two-under-par 70 to finish six shots behind Annika Sorenstam on her professional debut at the Women’s World Championship at Bighorn in Palm Desert, California.
“I think it would be a really good experience to play in the men’s British Open,” added Wie, who would be eligible for regional qualifying next year as she finished tied for third in the Women’s British Open at Birkdale in August.
If successful, she would then have to get through final qualifying.
“I know it is a tough route, but it would be all worth it. I don’t care how I get there as long as I qualify,” said the Hawaiian teenager.
South Korea’s Jang was slightly more reticent, but she said: “I’m not saying I’ll definitely do it, but I’ll certainly think about it. It would be good fun to give it a try.”
Sorenstam became the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour at the Colonial Tournament two years ago (Wie has since played in three).
But the Swede insists all her focus is geared towards breaking more records on the women’s Tour.
However, she welcomed the R&A’s decision, and did leave the door slightly ajar.
“If it was on a course that I really wanted to play, then who knows?” she said. “But I think it’s great that they are opening it up to women, although I don’t think that I would really be interested (in trying to qualify).”
Scot Catriona Matthew, the leading British player who joined Wie on two under par after the first round at Bighorn, totally rejected the notion.
“Until I can win every week out here (on the LPGA Tour) then what’s the point?” she said. “I’m not interested at all.”