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Different routes, similar destinations
But for both, good performances in the St Rule Trophy at St Andrews this weekend could see them join forces in the Curtis Cup in Pittsburgh this summer.

Heather's recent brave revelation regarding her alcohol problems have been well-publicised. But, unburdened, the 25-year-old [pictured] followed up her impressive win in the Helen Holm Trophy last month with the most decisive of victories in the Scottish Championship at Stranraer last week.

She was out of sight in heading the strokeplay qualifying, and then serenely passed through the knock-out stages, beating former winner Anne Laing by 3 and 1 in the final to get her name on the trophy for the first time.

When I caught up with Heather this week she was brimming with happiness, and had enjoyed a few special nights out with friends to celebrate her latest success.

Of course, with her drink-related history - she returned home early from a Scottish training camp and pulled out of a GB and Ireland visit to South Africa earlier this year - she is fully aware that her Curtis Cup ambitions may not just rest on golfing talent alone.

'I've spoken to Nancy Duncan (chairman of training) and Maureen Madill (the GB and I coach), and they both say that I am still eligible, but we'll just have to wait and see,' she said.

As for Vikki, she returns home from her America university on Thursday, just 48 hours before the St Rule that comprises one round over the New course at St Andrews on Saturday followed by 36 holes over the Old Course on Sunday.

The St Rule winner in 200, and third last year, Vikki has been handed a prime draw at the back of the field for the final day. She joins Britain's number one amateur, Rebecca Hudson, and Ireland's Alison Coffey.

She recognises the significance as she dreams of making a debut for GB and Ireland in the Curtis Cup. 'If I can produce a good performance, then it would obviously help my chances of attracting the selectors attention,' she said.

On this season's demanding US college circuit, Vikki has certainly made an impact. In five of her last four outings, she has had top-10 finishes, and it was just a cruel twist of timing that hit her chances in the most prestigious event of all, last week's NCAA Championships in Seattle.

Having completed her more than acceptable opening round of 74 at around 6pm, she then had to sit an end of year statistics exam, and didn't put her pen down until after midnight.

'I was then up at 5am the next day for an early tee time,' says Vikki, taking up the story. 'I really just couldn't switch off and I shot 80, which was a shame. I came back with two closing rounds of 72 and finished around the top-30, but that one poor round really spoiled my chances.'

However, she is hoping that the exam was more up to scratch and that she will soon hear that she has successfully completed her third year of her sociology degree at Berkeley University near San Francisco and can now concentrate on an important summer of golf.

This week, she got news of one team selection - she will head Scotland's team for the European Junior Women's Championships in Moscow next month - but it is the Curtis Cup that is the main goal.

And it could be her final opportunity. She expects to graduate a year from now, and is then proposing to turn professional in time for the 2003 LPGA and Evian European Tour qualifying schools.

Heather is also contemplating the professional route, although she knows better than most that it is a case of taking just one step at a time. Her golf is certainly ready to fit the bill, and she admits that having come out with her problems has had a beneficial effect.

'I feel so much more relaxed now that everything is out in the open,' she admitted. 'And I also feel that a lot of people are really pulling for me. It's great.'

©    28 - MAY 2002

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