2004: European players: No more women

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The PGA European Tour’s tournament committee discussed whether women should be allowed to play on tour, and nearly all members came out against the idea, according to tournament chairman Jamie Spence.

The committee, in its first meeting of the year, reacted to Laura Davies’ inclusion in the ANZ Championship in Australia this past month. It was the first time a woman had played a European Tour event. (The event was co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and the European Tour.)

The 40-year-old Englishwoman missed the cut, finishing 155th of the 156 players in the field.

“It was discussed at depth, and it’s safe to say that from the players’ point of view, we don’t want women to play,” Spence said. “The feeling was that we don’t feel the girls should be playing men’s events.

“I’m not sure about the legality of the issue. We did not vote on it but there was a unanimous feeling among all the players that we should stick to our own tours. That’s the view. None of us see any real point to it. None of us are that happy about it.”

Rank-and-file players are unhappy because it means denying a tour member a place in the field. Similar to PGA Tour events in the United States, most European Tour events are allowed a maximum of eight sponsor exemptions.

“A lot of players struggle for starts,” Spence said. “We’re struggling to get tour (qualifying) school players into tournaments anyway, and if a women is playing and not making cuts then that’s a place gone. We’re certainly not anti-women, but we just don’t want them playing in a men’s event.”

Established players also came out against the idea.

“My big question is why?” said Colin Montgomerie, a member of the committee. “I don’t understand why. I know everyone is excited about Michelle Wie but has she won a tournament yet? No. Let her win a tournament in her own place before she starts to play with the men.”

Andrew Coltart, one of several new members on the committee, said he is not against the idea, as long as women are subject to the same rules as men.

“I have no problem with women playing on our tour, but if they are going to play then they have to come through qualifying like everyone else,” he said. “I mean there are a lot of good players now and they fight hard to get on tour by going to the qualifying school or through the Challenge Tour. If a woman wants to play on tour, then she should have to do the same thing.”

The tournament committee does not decide European Tour regulations. That falls to the tour’s board of directors. Spence has passed the players’ concerns on and the issue will be discussed when the board meets April 20. However, one member of the board who spoke on condition of anonymity said the issue would not be resolved.

“Expect a fudge on this,” he said. “There are too many legalities involved with this for the board to take action.”

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