Puerto Rico Open to offer exemption to Yani
The Puerto Rico Open will be happy to help Yani Tseng if she decides to play against the men.
Sidney Wolf, the tournament’s general chairman, told Golfweek that he intends to offer Tseng an exemption into his event in 2012. The PGA Tour event will be held March 8-11, opposite the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.
Tseng, the world’s No. 1 female player and winner of 11 events this year, told the China News Agency last week, “If an opportunity presents itself, I would like to play in a PGA tournament to learn more from male golfers.”
Golfweek was first to report on the Puerto Rico Open's offer.
Wolf said he has yet to contact Tseng’s camp about a potential exemption. She is in her native Taiwan this week and was unavailable for comment. Tseng's adviser, Ernie Huang, said she would likely not compete against the men "in the near future."
"We appreciate that Puerto Rico has responded so soon, but she has more goals to accomplish, such as completing the Grand Slam and qualifying for the Hall of Fame," Huang told Golfweek. "To play on (the) PGA Tour now will be too much distraction for her."
According to Golfweek research, there is no LPGA event scheduled for that week. The LPGA has yet to release its 2012 schedule.
Wolf told Golfweek, “Having the No. 1 player here would open our event to a broader audience. It could open up the possibility of a LPGA event here, and ultimately help us raise funds for our charities. It would also creates awareness of Puerto Rico globally, which would economically be very positive for the island.”
Wolf, also the president of the Puerto Rico Golf Association, has long been trying to increase visibility for his event, which began in 2008.
Trump International Golf Club - Puerto Rico, which hosts the Puerto Rico Open, is listed at 7,569 yards, but plays about 7,200 yards during the tournament, Wolf said. LPGA courses typically play about 6,500 yards. Trump International’s scorecard lists six par-4s that are 448 yards or longer, but the course has relatively few forced carries, Wolf said.
Said Tseng, "I wouldn’t care about the results because I’d just want to enjoy the feeling of playing with guys and learning from them to further improve my skills."
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Tseng competed in Puerto Rico during the 2004 World Amateur Team Championship. She finished fourth in the individual competition, five shots behind Julieta Granada and Karin Sjodin, at Rio Mar Country Club in Rio Grande.
“It would a great honor to have Yani play here during the celebration of our fifth anniversary of the Puerto Rico Open,” Wolf said. “She has the length to compete.”
Annika Sorenstam was the world’s No. 1 woman when she competed against the men at the 2003 Bank of America Colonial. She shot 71-74 to miss the cut by four shots.