Each year at about this time I observe from afar how much
attention is paid to the men at the British Open and wonder, Why
isn't the Women's British Open considered one of the LPGA's
major events? The fact that it's not is quite stupid, really.
There's no rule that says you can't have five majors. In fact,
the R&A already lists the Women's British Open as the first of
People ask me whether the British should replace the du Maurier
Classic, which is having sponsorship trouble. If the du Maurier
ever ceased being an event, then yes, it should be replaced by
the British. But we shouldn't have to wait for that to happen.
Until a few years ago I wouldn't have pushed for making the
British a major. The tournament began in 1976 and had great
champions like Helen Alfredsson and Patty Sheehan, but it did
not become an LPGA event until 1994. Even then it was played
each year at Woburn Golf & Country Club, which I have nothing
against, but it's not a links course. Today the Open is being
played on some of the finest venues on the men's rotation: Royal
Lytham & St. Annes last year and Royal Birkdale in 2000. That's
pretty impressive stuff.
This year might not be the best year to start calling the
Women's British Open a major because we play Woburn again, Aug.
12-15. But next year at Birkdale would be an ideal starting
point. LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw needs to take the lead on this
issue. I think the players would get behind it. If you ask
Sherri Steinhauer, I bet she would say winning last year at
Royal Lytham was one of her finest moments--and she's won the du
The field next month at Woburn will probably be pretty strong.
It always is. If the tournament were a major, it would be
stronger still, though, and the coverage for our Open would be
closer to what the men got last week.
Laura Davies won the Women's British Open in 1986.
COLOR PHOTO: BILL EPPRIDGE