Golf: Nicholas aims for home win

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Britain's Alison Nicholas and Nancy Lopez of the United States renew their rivalry, after their epic encounter in the US Open in Oregon last month, in the Weetabix British Women's Open which begins over the Old Course at Sunningdale today.

Nicholas, who came out on top in America, is one of 10 former winners in the field, including the American defending champion, Emilee Klein. There are 22 of the top 30 world-ranked players in the strongest-ever field for the championship.

Lopez has 47 wins in her remarkable career and is no stranger to Sunningdale, where she won the European Open in 1978 and the next year. Annika Sorenstam, from Sweden, Australian Karrie Webb and Britain's Laura Davies, the top three players in the world, will start as favourites to win the title.

The British Open is an omission from Sorenstam's portfolio, which includes back-to-back US Open victories in 1995 and last year, and the Swede is determined to improve on her second-place finishes in 1994 and 1995. Webb won at her first attempt two years ago at Woburn.

This week also marks the beginning of a new career for the Scottish pair, Janice Moodie and Mhairi McKay. Members of last year's winning Curtis Cup side, both are making their debuts as professionals.