amateur golf
amateur golf



The Evian Ladies European Tour makes a welcome return to the magnificent links course at Kennemer GC on the outskirts of Amsterdam for the 100,000 Mexx Sport Open 2001.

Sweden's Solheim Cup heroine Catrin Nilsmark heads a quality field of 118
players in search of the 15,000 first prize. Nilsmark, who turned 34 today, is hoping to record her third Tour title and make a long awaited return to the winner's circle, having not been there since the 1999 Evian Masters.

But close on her tail this week are the outstanding Rookies of the Tour this year, namely Paula Marti from Spain, Suzann Pettersen from Norway and France's Karine Icher.

Pettersen leads the Bill Johnson Rookie of the year race from Icher by 1526
points with Marti, who has won twice this year in the La Perla Italian Open and Kellogg's All Bran British Masters, just 29 points further behind.

With 1500 points awarded to the winner this week, Marti or Icher could make
it go to the wire at the final counting event of the year, the 2001 Biarritz Ladies Classic on 27-29 September.

But the 20-year-old from Oslo is determined to wrap it up this week with a solid performance on this tight and often windswept links.

"Earlier in the year, I was not worried about the Rookie of the year race at all," said the Norwegian.

"I came out to hopefully have a good year and settle myself into Tour life, but it's been fantastic.

"After winning in France, I knew there would be a great battle between the younger players and this race is going to the wire. Paula and Karine are both fantastic players and to be ahead of them in the race is exciting."

England's Trish Johnson is hoping to continue her good form from last week's
Ladies Irish Open where she finished tied for sixth place. The 35-year-old from Bristol has endured a torrid season with niggling elbow and shoulder injuries. But now she is fully fit, she wants to throw in a win for the more experienced members of the Tour.

"Somebody has got to take the youngsters on," quipped Johnson.

"They are getting it all their own way, it's been a fabulous season for them and nice to see that the Tour is getting stronger. But there is still plenty of time for us oldies to show them that we can still mix it."

Compatriot Kirsty Taylor, who finished tied second here last year behind Germany's Tina Fischer, has a liking for links courses and hopes that her game is good enough to finally break through for her first Tour win.

The 30-year-old from Clitheroe who was runner up at Royal Birkdale in the 2000 Weetabix British Open, has had an up and down season by her own standards, but is confident that she can continue her good form over the last few weeks.

"The game is great right now, I have been struggling with it, especially earlier in the year, but I have gone back to my old coach Jane Forrest and now I have found the confidence again," said Taylor.

"Hopefully I can go one better this week, but there is so much talent on Tour right now, I will have to play my best."

Eleven Dutch players are in the starting line up with Nienke Nijenhuis from Lochem heading the home charge. The 23-year-old former British Amateur strokeplay champion has yet to make her mark on Tour, but with home support,
she intends to avoid a visit to qualifying school after a tough rookie season where she is currently 83rd on the order of merit with the top 90 automatically getting their cards for next season.

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