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Biting back
It's amazing what a snub does. Since she was metaphorically slapped in the face and left out of the Solheim Cup team, Catriona Matthew (pictured) has finished second, fourth, 12th, seventh and second again in LPGA tournaments.

Her latest runner-up spot behind South Korea's Se Ri Pak in last week's Mobile Tournament of Champions in Alabama lifted the Scot to No 15 on the money list with $490,066.

And there could still be a lot more to come. Next week, she plays in the Nine Bridges Classic in Korea, then it's on to Japan for the Cisco World Matchplay Championship followed by the Mizuno Classic.

Matthew is the only British player to qualify for the matchplay event. The line-up is the top 16 players from the LPGA plus 16 from the Japanese Tour and the purse in just over $1 million.

The North Berwick player is still hurting over her Solheim omission, but her response has been typical gutsy, and she has demonstrated the qualities that are so welcome in matchplay situations. Now wouldn't a good showing - or how about a win? - in the Cisco just be the final proof that Catriona should have been in the European team that suffered such a disappointing loss to America last month?

Meanwhile, last week another batch of European players became fully paid up members of the LPGA Tour. England's Johanna Head and Georgina Simpson, Norway's Suzann Pettersen, Spain's Raquel Carriedo and Italy's Guilia Sergas and Marine Monnet, from France, all gained full cards at the final qualifying school in Florida. Another three Solheim Cup players - Paula Marti, Karine Icher and Iben Tinning - finished with conditionals.

Perhaps the most surprising of the qualifiers was Georgina Simpson. A rookie in Europe this season, she didn't make too much of an impact. But the 27-year-old from Cleckheaton has US experience having been a colleague of Janice Moodie at San Jose State University in California.

'I waited until last year to turn professional because I wanted to do the American "thing" as far as college golf was concerned,' she said. 'So to get through to the LPGA at the first time of asking is a real thrill.

'I've loved every minute of my first year and now I'm really looking forward to next season. Getting through the school is like an early Christmas present.'

For Pettersen, Carriedo and Monnet, it will be a first experience of life in the US, but all appear to be well equipped to make the switch up a gear in their careers. Carriedo was last year's European No. 1 and finished fourth in this year's US Open, while Pettersen is the most confident of 21-year-olds, and was one of the hits of the Solheim Cup.

As for Monnet, she could yet be the best of the bunch. Or, at least, she could be if she sorts out her putting. The 24-year-old came close to making the Solheim team as a rookie in 2000, but she has been overshadowed by the other new kids - Pettersen, Icher and Marti - over the past two seasons.

However, she is a huge talent, and getting through to the LPGA could just be the extra spur she needs to get her career fully back on course. Take my word, she could be the name to watch in 2003.

And a final word this week for Janice Moodie. The Scot gets married on Saturday to Tim Carneval, who started out as her financial advisor when she first moved to America four years ago. But it didn't take too long before romance blossomed, and they make a lovely couple.

They are tying the knot at the Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando in Florida, and her parents, brother and many friends are making the trip from Scotland. Mhairi McKay and two of her school friends from Bearsden Academy are the bridesmaids and it promises to be a great occasion. I'm sure everyone in Scotland wishes Janice and Tim a long and very happy future together.

But while she will become Mrs Carneval off the course, she will be sticking to Janice Moodie as far as her golf is concerned.

©    16 - OCTOBER 2002

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