May 27, 2006

Van de Velde happy to be paired with Wie

By Norman Dabell

VIRGINIA WATER (Reuters) - Jean Van de Velde, the most
outspoken player about women being allowed to qualify for
majors, said on Saturday he would have no problem if he were
grouped with Michelle Wie in the European Masters.

Wie, 16, has an invitation to play in the tournament in
Crans sur Sierre, Switzerland, in September.

Van de Velde, the only European Tour member to have been
paired with a woman when he played with Laura Davies in the ANZ
Open two years ago, said: "I have no problem if it happens

"I shall be at the European Masters and if I am drawn with
her (Wie), that's fine."

Van de Velde had threatened to write for an invitation to
the British Women's Open after criticizing the decision to
allow women to try to qualify for the men's equivalent.

However, he admitted on Saturday he had never written the
letter. "I'm hoping for an invite," joked Van de Velde.

The French player, who celebrates his 40th birthday on
Monday, again showed on Saturday he is coping with knee
problems that have beset him for several years and nearly
forced him to quit the game before making a final comeback in

His third round of 66 in the PGA Championship at Wentworth
hauled him through the field to six-under-par 210.

After his flawless six-birdie card Van de Velde revealed
his right knee, operated on after a skiing spill, regularly

He said: "It went twice during the Singapore Masters this
year and once in the Spanish Open and it can be very painful
but it rights itself by stretching the leg. I have to be very

Van de Velde's injury means he will not try to qualify for
the British Open over 36 holes in one day in international
final qualifying but aim for final qualifying over two days if
he cannot exempt himself any other way.