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Two much of a good thing?
In the wake of last week's terrible tragedy in America, Kathryn Marshall has decided to abandon plans to tee it up in this weekend's LPGA event in Augusta and will now end her year at next week's Biarritz Open on the Evian European Tour.

But it will be no end of season jolly in France for Kathryn and husband, Scot, who also doubles as her caddie. There is still much work to done as she seriously begins to look ahead to the Solheim Cup, which is now less than a year away.

'I was only going back to America for one week so, in the light of the dreadful goings on I decided it would be prudent to cancel and change to the event in Biarritz,' she explained from home in Broughty Ferry.

'It will be my last event of the season, and this is going to be a long winter. The LPGA usually kicks off in Florida in January. But all three events have been removed from next year's schedule so we won't start until Hawaii in February.

'It is quite good to get a longish break but, then again, Scotland in winter isn't the best place to take a few months' off. But I'll be working both on my game and on my fitness, and it also means that I'll be raring to go when February comes around.'

Currently lying 25th in the Solheim rankings - the top seven are automatic selections - a good finish in Biarritz would be the perfect way to sign off on a season that has seen the 1996 Cup player make a welcome return to something resembling her top form.

But the one disappointment about not returning this weekend is that she has lost her chance to climb into the top-50 on the LPGA rankings - she is 58th.

'The top 50 get a two-year Tour exemption and that was one target this year,' she explained. 'But compared to what has been happening in America, it means absolutely nothing.

'I'm just delighted that I played so much better this year. The Solheim is definitely a goal, although there are so many good European players clamouring to make the side that it is going to be very tough.

'But I would love to make the side. The experience I had at St Pierre in 1996 was the best ever. It was the highlight of my golfing career - even better than when I won in America in 1995.

'I've always been a team person; I played hockey at school. On reflection, I don't know why I decided to concentrate on golf!'

Kathryn has never won in Europe, and she would love to break her duck next week. She will be one of the favourites - but faces a tough challenge from such as Order of Merit winner Raquel Carriedo, and the three great young rookies, Norway's Suzann Pettersen, Spain's Paula Marti, plus the player that will have the bulk of the support, France's Karine Icher.

Pettersen and Icher are still in the hunt for the Bill Johnson Rookie of the Year award, while Marti, Icher and Carriedo will all be aiming to become the only three-time winner of the season.

Returning to the subject of next year's Solheim Cup, Dale Reid's European side will now be defending the trophy at Interlachen in Minnesota a week before the re-scheduled Ryder Cup at the De Vere Belfry.

Evian Tour chief executive Tim Howland has put a positive spin on the situation by suggesting that it will be a glorious two week festival of exciting golf.

But the problem is that the women could be overshadowed by the men. For instance, how many of the European media will travel to Minnesota a week
before the Belfry? And now that the Ryder Cup has been changed to the even numbered years, it will become a perennial problem.

Staging the Cups a week apart on opposite sides of the Atlantic hardly seems ideal. Howland claims that women's tennis benefits when the sexes get together for the Grand Slams. But they are played in the same arena, which is slightly different.

©    20 - SEPTEMBER 2001

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