Annika appearance may be required

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

The 2007 Canadian Women's Open at Royal Mayfair might just have its first superstar.

Thanks to an LPGA rule designed to give every Tour stop a look at the top players, Annika Sorenstam, the greatest player in the history of women's golf and still a force today, will be required to include Edmonton on her schedule next summer.

"There's a four-and-one rule that, simply put, says that all LPGA players must appear in each LPGA event at least once every four years," said Rick Desrochers, chief operating officer of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.

"I think the rule has been in place for five years. It's relatively new."

The last time Sorenstam played in Canada was 2003 in Vancouver. Edmonton 2007 will be four years since her last visit.

"On that basis she would be scheduled to appear in Edmonton," said Desrochers. "So I'm very optimistic that she will play."

And if she doesn't?

"If she doesn't play, the LPGA would fine her," said Desrochers. "From what I hear, the fine is significant, but the LPGA won't say what the amount is."

It'll make for a busy stretch, though. The four-week run begins with the Evian Masters in France, followed by the Women's British Open, a tournament in Sweden and then Edmonton in mid-August.

"She'd have to leave her event in Sweden on Sunday and fly to Edmonton and play there," said Desrochers.

"That's four weeks in a row.

"From a physical standpoint she's capable of doing that, but it takes a toll. She could also sit out the Evian or move the date of her event, which isn't out of the realm of possibility."

But Desrochers doubts it will take the threat of a fine to convince Sorenstam, or any of the circuit's other marquee names, to revisit Canada.

The Canadian Women's Open has a new look. The tournament has undergone a massive upgrade since CN took over sponsorship.

It has already caught the attention of many LPGA players.

"To be perfectly frank, with the success we enjoyed in London with our new title sponsor, the way we've upgraded this event, there were a lot of players going around saying the Canadian Open now has the feel of a major," said Desrochers. "We've really raised the bar on the event and I think we've going to have a terrific field."


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