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Aussie golfer plans to make history

2/15/2004

MELBOURNE, Australia -- A golfer born in Adelaide as a
man will create a world first by playing in the women's
Australian Open next month, the Sunday Herald Sun newspaper
reported in Melbourne.

Mianne Bagger had sex-change surgery in 1995 after a
lifetime of feeling "something wasn't quite right", according to the
newspaper.

"It is a world first, there has never been a transsexual
playing in a women's tournament before," Bagger, 37, was quoted
as saying.

"It's a dream for me, I've been playing golf since I was
8 but I turned professional only in August last year. So,
it's been a long time coming."

The women's Australian Open will be held at Concord in
Sydney March 4-7.

Bagger said she had made new friendships with fellow
golfers. "But there are some women who find me hard to accept,"
she added.

"I have never been confronted by anyone and most don't
consider it to be an issue. To most people I am just another one
of the girls out there playing.

"I have always known there was something different about me
since I was young, we are born this way. You certainly don't go
through surgery lightly."

A Women's Golf Australia spokeswoman said the WGA had "no
problems" with Bagger playing, the newspaper reported.

"Mianne has been playing for years in our amateur
tournaments where we have no rules against trans-gender
players," the WGA spokesperson was quoted as saying.

"There is no reason why she should not continue her golfing
career in the professional tournament."

A WGA spokesperson could not be contacted by Reuters for
comment Sunday.