Wie invited to London event

JOHN HERBERT -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

Michelle Wie has officially been invited to play in the CN Canadian Women's Open at the London Hunt and Country Club in August.

But tournament director Sean Van Kesteren said yesterday it may be months before the Royal Canadian Golf Association learns if the 16-year-old Wie will play in $1.7-million US tournament, Aug. 10-13.

Van Kesteren and members of the London tournament committee, including co-chairperson Doug Alexander, will be at the 12th annual London Golf Expo beginning today, beating the drums for the LPGA event.

Tickets will also be on sale and they'll be recruiting volunteers.

"She's officially invited through her agent," said Van Kesteren, who who will play a leading role in the next few months, recruiting the top players from the LPGA Tour to the city.

"She hasn't finalized her schedule yet."

Wie, who turned pro recently, is represented by the William Morris Agency of Beverly Hills, Calif., a management company normally associated with movie stars, rather than sports stars.

Wie is eligible to play in only eight women's events because she has not sought member status on the LPGA Tour.

As a result, Van Kesteren expects she'll probably play in the four majors, leaving four spots open.

Van Kesteren will begin recruiting top LPGA players late in February when he attends a tournament in Orlando.

He said part of the process is providing information to the players about London, the Hunt Club's history and information about travel to London the day after the women's British Open ends Aug. 6.

Other considerations include the style of course and the course's tournament history. The Hunt Club held the 1993 DuMaurier Classic and the 1970 men's Canadian Open. "We expect our first (player) announcements around the Masters," Van Kesteren said.

He said because CN became the title sponsor, replacing the Bank of Montreal and raising the purse from $1.3 to $1.7 million US, the tournament will definitely be more attractive to the star players.

"That's going to help big- time. There's two or three things players look at and No. 1 is purse. Ours will be about No. 10 in purses on the LPGA schedule. We're going to be about $100,000 less than the majors."

TOURNAMENT FACTS

Date: Aug. 10-13 at London Hunt.

Purse: $1.7 million US, up $400,000 this year.

Tickets: On sale at the London Golf Expo today, tomorrow and Sunday at the Western Fair Progress Building, RCGA booth. A weekly badge with clubhouse privileges for has an early bird price of $160. until May 31. A weekly badge for admission to the tournament grounds is $40 or $50 after the golf show. Daily general admission tickets cost $20 at the golf show They are $25 at the gate daily. To order tickets call 1-866-571-5742.

TV coverage: the RCGA is negotiating with The Golf Channel in the U.S. and Rogers Sportsnet in Canada.

Volunteers: Interested persons can register at the RCGA booth. The event already has 850 and is hoping for 1200-1300.


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