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Canadian woman tries to play PGA Tour events through qualifiers
by Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Isabelle Beisiegel of Canada isn't looking for a sponsor's exemption on the PGA Tour, nor does she consider herself part of the trend of women competing against men.

She just wants to play at the highest level.

Despite all the attention on gender blending in golf, starting with Annika Sorenstam at the Colonial last year, Beisiegel went unnoticed this week when she tried to qualify for the Buick Invitational on Monday. She shot 80, which was 12 shots short of getting a spot in the field.

It was the fourth time she tried to qualify for a men's event, but not the last.

She will try to qualify next week for the Nissan Open at Pacific Palisades.

``I don't play against women or men,'' Beisiegel said on Friday before heading out for a practice round. ``I just play the course in front of me. I found out from playing four qualifiers with the men that battles are internal. I'm trying to get my butterflies to fly in formation.''

She hasn't come close to getting into two PGA Tour events (Buick, Canadian Open) or two Nationwide Tour events, although she believes the competition already has paid off.

Beisiegel, who lives in Norman, Okla., and played four years for the Sooners, earned her LPGA Tour card last year by winning the qualifying tournament.

She didn't have any place to play after the Futures Tour season and before LPGA qualifying school, so she entered three Monday qualifiers against the men.

``Then I won the (LPGA) qualifying,'' she said. ``The best way to prepare is to compete, and that's my strategy.''

The LPGA Tour doesn't begin for another month, so Beisiegel is playing where she can. And that has led her to Monday qualifying on the PGA Tour.

But this is more than just a tuneup for the LPGA.

Beisiegel said playing the PGA Tour qualifiers will get her ready for the ultimate goal -- qualifying school on the PGA Tour.

``I think it's a myth that women can't play against men,'' she said. ``Golf is a sport where strength is a small part of the game. The mental side of each shot determines what kind of tournament you have.''

She doesn't buy into the theory that men have the advantage by hitting 8-iron into a green instead of a 5-iron or fairway metal.

Beisiegel said the men have treated her well during her forays into qualifying, perhaps because she's not asking for preferential treatment. Some have been critical of Sorenstam and 14-year-old Michelle Wie playing the PGA Tour on sponsor's exemptions, claiming they haven't earned their way into the field.

Whether Beisiegel gets into a PGA Tour event is probably a long shot.

She shot a 77 trying to qualify for the Canadian Open, and had rounds of 75 and 71 trying to qualify for the Nationwide Tour events. Scores in the mid- to upper-60s are usually required to get in.

As a 13-year-old, Wie shot a 73 last year and missed qualifying for the Sony Open by seven shots. She got an exemption this year, and missed the cut by one shot after rounds of 72-68.

Beisiegel does not have the hype of Wie, or the pedigree of highly ranked college players.

Still, she is dreaming big.

``I want to push myself beyond what I want to do,'' she said. ``I don't know about the other women, or their aspirations. But all golfers thrive on challenges, and that's what I embrace. I love to put myself in tough situations.''

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