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Annika Sorenstam will play a match-play event in New Jersey this week instead of taking a shot at the British Open. (Photo: Getty Images)
Annika Sorenstam will play a match-play event in New Jersey this week instead of taking a shot at the British Open. (Photo: Getty Images)

No women in field for British Open regional qualifying

Royal & Ancient Golf Club officials changed their rules to allow the top female players to try to qualify, but none has chosen to give it a go this year. Regional qualifying tees off Wednesday around Great Britain with only men in the field.

LONDON (PA) -- Wednesday could have been an historic day for the British Open. But it will not be.

Regional qualifying for the championship takes place at 16 courses around the British Isles, but not a single woman will be teeing off.

The Royal and Ancient Club abandoned the men-only rule for this year's championship and announced that the top five finishers in the four women's majors were eligible for regional qualifying.

The R&A also changed the qualifying date from Monday to Wednesday of this week to make it possible for those at the U.S. Women's Open in Rhode Island to cross the Atlantic and take part if they wanted to. But Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie and the rest all turned down the opportunity.

Instead, those advancing to the final qualifying tournament next Monday and Tuesday at four courses near Liverpool will be the usual mixture of club professionals and amateurs.

Spanish amateur star Pablo Martin, a standout collegian at Oklahoma State, will take part at Little Aston in Sutton Coldfield, while at Musselburgh Elliot and Zach Saltman will try to follow in the footsteps of their brother Lloyd, who went on to finish as the top amateur with a 15th-place result at St. Andrews last July.

Former leading amateur Jim Payne, winner of the Italian Open during his time on the European Tour and now club professional at Southport and Ainsdale, will compete at Notts, while James Conteh, the son of former world boxing champion John Conteh, will try again at Old Fold Manor in north London.

Two more ex-European Tour winners, Mark Davis and Paul Curry, will line up at Orsett in Essex, and two more in Stuart Cage and Warren Bennett are playing at Pannal in Yorkshire and Rochester and Cobham in Kent, respectively.

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