Stephenson May Play Champions Tour Event

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JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) -- Months after Annika Sorenstam played in a men's tournament, Jan Stephenson could do the same.
 
Stephenson's agent said Thursday he was working out details of an invitation for the former LPGA star to play in the Turtle Bay Championship on the Champions Tour in Hawaii Oct. 6-12.
 
'Discussions are in the final stages with just a few particulars to finalize,'' C.J. Roberts said. 'We're on board ready to go.''
 
Stephenson, JanRoberts said he expects a formal announcement to be made next month.
 
Calls to a Champions Tour spokesman Thursday night were not returned.
 
If Stephenson does play in the men's senior event, she would follow Sorenstam's historic appearance at the Colonial on the PGA Tour last month. Though she didn't make the cut, Sorenstam, the first woman to play in a tour event in 58 years, created a frenzy among the media and galleries and endeared herself to fans around the world.
 
Suzy Whaley, a Connecticut club pro, will play in the Greater Hartford Open in July. Teenage phenom Michelle Wie has accepted a sponsor's exemption to play on the Nationwide Tour in September, and has also been invited to play a stop on the Canadian Tour.
 
Stephenson, 51, who at the height of her career was one of the most glamorous stars on the LPGA Tour, is playing in the Hy-Vee Classic just north of Des Moines this weekend. The tournament is the first of three this year on the Women's Senior Golf Tour.
 
Roberts said Stephenson would not be playing at Turtle Bay to prove she is as good as or better than the men. The idea, he said, is to promote the two senior tours.
 
'Jan has nothing to prove,'' Roberts said. 'She sees this as an opportunity to raise the awareness for both the men's and women's senior tours. Because right now, we're trying to start the WSGT, and the Champions Tour, quite frankly we all know they could use a boost.
 
'And that's what this is about. This is about the game, not the name.''
 
Stephenson has won 16 LGPA tournaments, most recently in 1987. She has played in nine tournaments this year, winning $23,559.
 
LPGA Hall of Famer Patty Sheehan said she's all for Stephenson playing in a Champions Tour event.
 
'Jan's a great asset to the senior tour,'' said Sheehan, who is in the LPGA Hall of Fame. 'To have her go out and play on the Champions Tour, that would be a lot of fun for those guys and I think fun for Jan.
 
'It would help send a message to some prospective sponsors that those guys support us, too. They would love to see us do well.''
 
Stephenson is one of the founding members of the WSGT, which started in 2000 and has never had more than three tournaments in a year.
 
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