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What a waste
So when is Scotland's business community going to wake up and give our women golfers what they deserve - a home-based tournament?

It seems incredible that at a time when success on the course has never been higher - as was exemplified by Mhairi McKay (pictured), Janice Moodie, Kathryn Marshall and Catriona Matthew all finishing in the top-55 in the first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, in California on Sunday - that no sponsor has come forward to pick up the tab and revive the Scottish women's Open.

Yes, the Weetabix British Open will be held at Turnberry in August, and it is terrific that the event has moved north of the border for a first time. But surely there is room for a home-grown championship and a revival of the Scottish Open that has been missing from the calendar since 1995.

Last season a highly successful WPGA International Matchplay, backed by the Scottish-based 110Sports company and with extra funding from the Scottish Executive, was staged at Gleneagles. With Laura Davies defeating Janice Moodie in the final, an abundance of coverage from the BBC and the players voting it one of the best events of the year, it was hoped it would become a permanent fixture.

But when Scotland lost out on the 2010 Ryder Cup bid so did the women as regards financial backing from the Scottish Executive. Apparently, the Ryder Cup commitment to supporting every aspect of golf only starts 10 years before the event, and so the money should start to flow again in 2004 (Gleneagles was awarded the 2014 contest).

But it does seem a little mean to miss the two years, and lose out on the chance on really building up the matchplay championship into a highlight of the Evian European Tour calendar.

The four Scots would love to get the chance to confirm their talents at home as opposed to the other side of the Atlantic where much of their success can be overlooked.

For instance, McKay - and isn't she looking forward to competing for the British Open title over her home course of Turnberry at the beginning of August? - is playing the best golf of her career at the moment, and her bubbly personality makes her a perfect advertisement for the women's game. She's not afraid to let her emotions show on the course, and she is already building a great rapport with the galleries in America.

Anyway, if there is a company out there wanting to support Scottish talent, then women's golf could be the way to go. I'm sure they won't be disappointed.

Meanwhile, let me tell you about a name to look out for - Lorena Ochoa. A 20-year-old from Mexico, she has, incredibly, won six tournaments out of six on the US College circuit which just teems with talent.

And just as impressive is her form playing as an amateur in the last three LPGA tournaments. She tied for 7th in the PING banner Health in Phoenix, was fifth (14 under par and just four behind winner Laura Diaz) at the Welch's/Circle K Championship in Tucson and then was eighth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Incredible.

There are rumours that she might turn professional within the next week, although it is far more likely that she will stay amateur until the end of the college season - she has three more events, and would love to become the first player ever to maintain an unbeaten record.

Already, Lorena has been feted in her home country, and she was the first golfer to win Mexico's top sports honour, the National Sports Award.

A student at Arizona University in Tucson - an establishment that numbers Swede Annika Sorenstam and Kathryn Marshall among its former undergraduates - Lorena started playing golf at the age of five after she pestered her father to let her join her two older brothers on the course.

'From the time she first swung a club,' reports her father, Javier, 'it was her absolute passion.'

So remember the name - Lorena Ochoa - she'll soon be making some big headlines.


©    2 - APRIL 2002



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