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Stars of LPGA hail women members at Augusta National

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- World No. 1 Yani Tseng and USLPGA stars Michelle Wie and Brittany Lincicome hailed Augusta National Golf Club's decision to allow women members for the first time in its 80-year history.

The move was announced Monday with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore accepting invitations to join the famed home of the Masters, where women could play but had not been members.

“I just feel very happy that they finally have let ladies be members,” said Tseng. “I'm looking forward to going and playing there if I can. I've never played there so I think it's very interesting.”

Taiwan's Tseng is among the favorites at this week's LPGA Canadian Open in Vancouver, where the 2010 Winter Olympics were staged.

Tseng went to the London Olympics earlier this month and hopes to play when golf returns to the Olympic lineup in four years at Rio de Janerio.

“After I went there I felt like I really want to play in the Olympics in four years, so that's kind of my next big step, to win a gold medal,” Tseng said. “If I can play, I'll be very, very honored. So it's kind of one of the goals and dreams.”

One of Wie's dreams has been to compete at Augusta National, not just play there. The two-time LPGA Tour winner tried her hand at qualifying once by entering the U.S. Mid-Amateur tournament and still longs to test her skills on the famed layout.

“I think it's great that they're allowing female members now,” Wie said. “I think that's very cool. I would love to play the golf course one time.

“Playing in a Masters has always been a dream of mine. You've got to dream big. You never know. But it will always be a dream of mine.”

Wie has played golf with Rice, who will don her green jacket in October.

“I played a round of golf with her when she was in Hawaii by accident, so it was really nice catching up with her,” said Wie, who was a student at Stanford when Rice taught there. “It was really nice seeing her and just being able to talk to her was awesome.”

For Lincicome, the defending Canadian Open champion, the landmark decision by Augusta National had meaning far beyond golf.

“It's great, not only for women's golf — it shows how much the world is changing and evolving,” she said. “It doesn't matter if you're the CEO of another company. It empowers women.

“It's not a man's world as much anymore. It doesn't have to be about golf. It can be whatever job you do. It's really cool to see that it's in my era, that I was a part of this. I think it's amazing. I think it's awesome.”

Australian star Karrie Webb and U.S. veteran Paula Creamer are among the LPGA players who have had a chance to play at Augusta National. Lincicome would not mind if one of the new members invited her for a trip down Magnolia Lane.

“I've never played Augusta, so if any of those nice ladies want to invite me out to play, that would be amazing,” Lincicome said.

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