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Page last updated at 21:05 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 22:05 UK

Wie defends Women's Open absence

Women's British Open, Sunningdale, 31 July-3 August
Live on BBC TV with leaderboard updates on the BBC Sport website

Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie is 244th in the women's rankings.

Michelle Wie has hit back at criticism of her decision to enter a men's tour event this week at the same time as the Women's British Open takes place.

Former world number one Annika Sorenstam was among those questioning Wie's decision not to try to make the women's major at Sunningdale.

"There are going to be criticisms entering this tournament," said Wie.

"But at the same time I'm just doing what I feel like I want to do and it's going to be a lot of fun."

While most of the top women golfers descend on Sunningdale, the 18-year-old Wie is in Reno, Nevada, making her eighth US PGA Tour appearance.

But the American, who has never made a cut in a men's event, has plunged down to 244th in the women's rankings, and risks becoming one of the curiosities of the game, rather than the outstanding champion she once seemed destined to be.

If you can't qualify for a major, I don't see any reason why you should play with the men

Paula Creamer

She added: "People are going to write hateful stuff about me and that's fine with me. Good rounds and low scores can solve everything."

But Sorenstam, who is chasing her 11th major and 73rd career title, said: "We all have different agendas in life but I really don't know why Michelle continues to do this.

"We have a major this week and, if you can't qualify for a major, I don't see any reason why you should play with the men."

Swedish star Helen Alfredsson criticised the guidance Wie gets from her parents, who manage her.

The 43-year-old, fresh from winning the Evian Masters, said: "I feel sad for her and for the guidance that she seems not to have in the right direction.

"I think she's a very good person but the exhibition time for her is over."

Wie's loss of form meant she was not granted an exemption for Sunningdale, although she did have a chance of getting in at an LPGA Tour event in Illinois two weeks ago.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Oliver Brett

She was one shot off the lead after three rounds and seemed poised to challenge for her first victory on the tour and an automatic spot at Sunningdale.

But she was then dramatically disqualified for not signing her second round scorecard until after she had left the recording area.

Wie then made a late decision to opt against entering the final qualifying tournament for the British Open.

Alfredsson, winner of the event in 1990 and now enjoying a second lease of life on the women's tour, said of Wie: "She was so good a couple of years ago when she finished second a few times.

"I'm sure if you put yourself enough times in that position then you can deal with it, and I think it's how you become better. That's how you learn to win.

"We have got some great, great players on the LPGA right now. I think, if she wants to be a golfer, she should really concentrate on being on the women's tour and dealing with them and learning to win.

I don't know if the PGA Tour is exactly the place to gain confidence - you can get your head beat in pretty easy out here

David Duval

"Winning is what we are out here for, but I just don't see the interest really on being on the men's tour. I thought she had quit that idea but obviously not."

American Paula Creamer, who has won three tournaments this season and seven in total, added: "I don't know why you'd want to pass up playing in a major, especially the British Open here at Sunningdale.

"But [Wie] goes a different path and that's not the path way that I've taken."

However, American David Duval, who has shown signs of regaining some of the form that won him the 2001 Open Championship, said Wie's playing on the PGA Tour "has never bothered me in the least".

"The novelty of it seemingly is wearing off a little bit, but you know, more power to her if she wants to try it," Duval said on Wednesday.

"I don't know if the PGA Tour is exactly the place to gain confidence. You can get your head beat in pretty easy out here."


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