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Crucial week for Scotland
This is a vital week for women's golf in Scotland with the Weetabix British Open taking place at Turnberry. The hope is that the sun will shine (which would make for a pleasant change this so-called summer), the spectators will flock and the players will produce a spectacle to match the claim that they are the very best in the world.

As befits the final Major of the season, everyone that matters has turned up, including the season's first three Major winners, Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak and Juli Inkster.

Sweden's Sorenstam, the World No. 1, will inevitably start favourite as she bids to win the title for a first time, while Inkster proved at the US Open in Kansas last month that she can cope with the windiest of conditions. It's something that could be very handy on the Ayrshire coast.

As for South Korea's Pak, she will be aiming to repeat her win at Sunningdale last year, although she hasn't got too many happy memories of her only other visit to a British links course.

She made her British Open debut at Royal Lytham and St Anne's in 1998 when the wind howled, the rain lashed and it was downright miserable. 'I've never been to Scotland: it won't be the same will it?' she inquired. Well, I hate to tell you Se Ri, but...

Anyway, the hope is that the sunshine at the start of this week continues, although it would be nice if the wind blows at least a little one day to sort out the women from the girls.

If the championship does prove to be a success, it will be another useful lever to help the Evian European Tour people try and add a Scottish Open to a 2003 schedule that the powers are be are predicting could number over 20 tournaments - this year, there are only 16.

Denmark and Finland are already being mentioned as new locations. The Danes have come to the fore thanks to the efforts of Iben Tinning, who has won both the Irish and Italian Opens this year and is also on course to become the first from her country to play in the Solheim Cup.

Last week, I was at the Norwegian Masters (four days of wonderful heatwave), an event born on the back of the great performances of Suzann Pettersen. The 21-year-old who is a superstar in her homeland was last year's European Rookie of the Year and another who will be in Dale Reid's Solheim side for the defence of the trophy in Minnesota next month.

But if players from other countries can help launch an event, how is it that with four world-class stars in Janice Moodie, Mhairi McKay, Catriona Matthew and Kathryn Marshall, Scotland cannot do likewise?

Of course, the perfect PR stunt would be for one of the quartet to triumph at Turnberry, and it is certainly possible. All four have been in great form throughout the season, and all would love to become the first Scot to win a women's Major. Their rivalry is friendly, but very fierce.

It is difficult to pick a favourite among the Scots. Mhairi is a home member, Catriona, from North Berwick, and Kathryn, brought up in Monifieth, both adore links golf, while Janice has a mental attitude that is second to none. The Windyhill golfer thrives on being in the limelight, and will be totally focussed on trying to lift the trophy in her native West of Scotland.

The Scottish golf fans will also play a huge part this week. Hopefully, they will turn out in huge numbers to support not only our famous four but also the rest of the impressive global cast.

With live television coverage on the BBC, it promises to be a great week, and a great championship. I know I'm biased, but I really do hope that everyone enjoys the experience.



©    6 - AUGUST 2002



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