Golf: Americans under siege from transatlantic talent: Liz Kahn on the impact being made on the LPGA Tour by Europe's cup-winning women

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The Independent Online
SUCCESS breeds more success, as the victory of Laura Davies in the McDonald's Championship, with Helen Alfredsson tying for third, has reinforced the present dominance of the Europeans on the LPGA Tour. Not only have Europeans won four of the first 10 tournaments of the season - Alfredsson the Dinah Shore, Trish Johnson back to back in Las Vegas and Atlanta and Davies in Delaware on Sunday - but their presence at the top of the money list is strong.

Alfredsson is leading with dollars 209,000 ( pounds 136,600), Trish Johnson is in third place, and Davies has pulled herself up to fifth. The LPGA Tour is considered the best in the world, Europeans are up there alongside the most recent entrant to the Hall of Fame, Patty Sheehan, and Betsy King, who is two victories short of an equal honour.

Davies, after her 23rd world-wide victory, said that the McDonald's title was her most important after the US and British Opens, because it is regarded as a major by the women, being a well-established event, played over a tough golf course, for nearly a million dollars.

Questioned on the possibility of her own domination of the LPGA Tour, and the expectation that she has the talent to win 'in everything', Davies said: 'It is very nice for people to think that, but realistically it is not that easy for anyone to dominate consistently. It is almost impossible for the mind to take that sort of pressure. I have never even won back to back like Trish in my 23 victories over nine years.'

Competing on the five tours this season - of Europe, America, Japan, Australia and the Far East - Davies knows she would need to base herself full-time in the United States to stand a chance of dominating.

'One year it would be great to play 27 US events and see if I'm good enough to lead the money list, but it would be easier if the European Tour were a lot stronger,' she said. 'At the moment, we owe it to the younger European players to make sure the sponsors remain interested.'

The Solheim Cup victory against the Americans produced a surge of confidence and now the Americans recognise the Europeans' talent. 'With the addition of the Europeans, we have the best women golfers in the world,' Jim Webb, the deputy commissioner of the LPGA, said.

Patty Sheehan, beaten by Trish Johnson in the Solheim singles last year, said: 'The Europeans have an aggressive mentality, they don't hold back. They gamble on a shot and don't worry about making a mistake.'

Davies regards success as cyclical: 'The Europeans are having a good run at the moment.' She also says their great strength is in their bonding and their rivalry.

'In America, we are all very good friends a long way from home. We have dinner together at night, we all love seeing each other win and we also love beating each other. I was losing ground there for a bit. I've got to keep them in check,' Davies said.

Her hero in America, Nancy Lopez, who was responsible for the LPGA Tour bursting into prominence in the 1970s, said last week: 'I would like to choke the Europeans,' and then added: 'I'm only kidding. They have improved the competition, they are good for our Tour and great for golf.'

The hope is that European sponsors will hold the women in the same high esteem and respond to ensure that the next generation has the opportunity to flourish.

----------------------------------------------------------------- EUROPEAN WINS IN THE US ----------------------------------------------------------------- LAURA DAVIES (GB): 1987: US Open; 1988: Tucson Open; 1988: Jamie Farr Toledo Classic; 1989: Lady Keystone Open; 1991: Inamori Classic; 1993: 13-16 May, McDonald's Championship. HELEN ALFREDSSON (Swe): 1992: Rookie of the Year; 1993: 25-28 March, Nabisco Dinah Shore (major). TRISH JOHNSON (GB): 1993: 1-4 April, Las Vegas LPGA; 8-11 April, Atlanta Championship. LOTTE NEUMANN (Swe): 1988: US Open; 1992: Mazda Japan Classic. ANNE-MARIE PALLI (Fr): 1983: Samaritan Turquoise Classic; 1992: ShopRite LPGA Classic. -----------------------------------------------------------------