Top women players eligible to enter The Open 

Top women players eligible to enter The Open

For the first time entry conditions for The Open include a qualification route into the Championship for women. The entry form for the 135th Open Championship, to be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake in July next year, will be published on this website.

R&A Chief Executive, Peter Dawson, said: "Our Championship Committee pledged to review entry conditions and to assess how women golfers might compete on equal terms with men for a place in The Open. As a result, I am delighted that a qualification route has now been established for the best women players to gain access to the Championship, competing alongside men on the same courses and from the same tees."

Male professional golfers and male amateurs (whose playing handicaps do not exceed scratch) may now be joined at Regional Qualifying by the top five women and ties from each of the four major championships in the womens game. In addition, any women meeting the entry requirements for International Final Qualifying, Local Final Qualifying and The Open itself can enter at these stages directly.

The new eligibility rules conform to two guiding principles set down by the Championship Committee - that entry to The Open should be based on playing ability irrespective of gender and that the strength and quality of the Championship and qualifying fields should be maintained at the highest level.

Female golfers eligible to compete in Regional Qualifying for the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake (20-23 July 2006) are the top five and ties from the 2005 Weetabix Womens British Open Championship, the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship, the 2006 McDonalds LPGA Championship and the 2006 US Womens Open Championship.

The Weetabix Womens British Open Championship is staged after The Open and therefore the 2005 top five and ties eligible to enter Regional Qualifying for the 2006 Open Championship are: 1st - Jeong Jang (Korea); 2nd - Sophie Gustafson (Sweden); tied 3rd - Young Kim (Korea) and Michelle Wie (USA); tied 5th - Cristie Kerr (USA), Liselotte Neumann (Sweden) and Annika Sorenstam (Sweden).

Exemptions from Regional, Local Final and International Final Qualifying have been expanded to include the leading player who finishes in the first 10 and those tied for 10th place, not exempt, from the 2006 Open de France and the 2006 Buick Championship. As before, exemption is also given to the leading player, not exempt, in the 2006 Smurfit European Open, the 2006 Barclays Scottish Open, the 2006 Western Open and the 2006 John Deere Classic where the "first 10 and ties" requirement also applies.

Closing dates for entries are: International Final Qualifying (IFQ) Africa - January 5, 2006; Australasia - January 19, 2006; Asia - March 23, 2006; and all other entries - June 1, 2006. The Open Championship entry fee is unchanged at 110.

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