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It's golf, but not as the BBC knows it
The many fans of women's golf who switched on to the BBC's Sports Review of the Year must have heaved a huge sigh of despair.

This year we had two British winners on the demanding LPGA Tour - Catriona Matthew and Laura Davies - and Matthew, Davies, Janice Moodie and Mhairi McKay all finished in the top-30 on the money list. Yet they didn't merit a mention.

In wider terms, Annika Sorenstam had arguably the best ever seasonin the 51-year history of the LPGA Tour. She won eight times, scooped up all the honours and set records galore.

The most memorable moment was when she made history by becoming the first woman to break 60 with a 59 in the Standard Register PING Tournament.

Sorenstam is a Swede, and yet Alan Hansen, who was presenting the golf section, puzzlingly announced: 'Internationally, there was little for Europe to celebrate this year.' He then went on to mention GB and Ireland's Walker Cup win over the US (and magnificent it was), as the exception to the rule.

The only reference to the women's game was that Australia's Karrie Webb had, at 26, become the youngest player to complete a career Grand Slam. At last, something that they couldn't ignore.

This year, it could also have been noted that, for the first time, a women's major was staged in Britain. And the BBC even provided extensive coverage of the Weetabix British Open at Sunningdale. But did we get any footage; the perfect advertisement for next year's event at Turnberry? Did we heck; not even a blink.

And yet, once again, there was plenty of British interest, with Matthew and Moodie both pushing eventual winner Se Ri Pak all the way to the line before finishing in a tie for third place. As far as majors are concerned, Moodie also added to the British cause by finishing joint second in the Nabisco Championship.

So is it not terribly sad that the distaff side of the game was so disturbingly overlooked by such an acclaimed organisation as the BBC?

After all, it is easy to argue that golf is, currently, the most successful professional sport pursued by British women. Imagine if we had four Brits in the top-30 in tennis?

Perhaps more pertinently, do you think the men would have been totally ignored if they had won titles in the US? And Ian Woosnam, Darren Clarke and Colin Montogomerie, quite rightly, all had their Open championship performances from Lytham fully acknowledged.

So far, I've not been made aware of BBC Scotland running a Sports Person of the Year award (I thought it was an annual thing; but maybe I've just missed the trailers). But, hopefully, at least one or two of our female golfers will be in the running.

I'm sure there are a few Scottish girl viewers who would love to catch a glimpse of Matthew, Moodie or McKay. Maybe even an interview - or am I being too greedy? Who knows? hearing that Matthew had won almost $750,000 in just one season might just be the inspiration that a youngster needs to take up the game.

Sorenstam has related how Liselotte Neumann - the first Swede to win the US Open in 1988 - was her role model. 'When you saw another Swede going over to compete in America, and being successful, you then thought "Why not me?",' she has often observed.

But heroines aren't made by being hidden away.

With Kathryn Marshall also finishing in the top-60 on the LPGA money list this year, it has been a tremendous year - easily the best ever - for the women's game in Scotland at professional level.

But how many sports fans are aware of the fact? I have more than an inkling that if four Scots men had done so well in the US, then we would have heard a lot more about it.

But let's be positive. Next year the women will get the chance to appear centre stage when the British Open leaves England for the first time, and all the very best players in the world will compete for the Weetabix Trophy over Turnberry's Ailsa course from August 8-11.

And who knows? Perhaps if we get a home winner then we'll all be reminded of the fact by the BBC next December. But I wouldn't even dare suggest that she be crowned Sports Personality of the Year.


©    17 - DECEMBER 2001



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