Nicholas has her eye on Davies

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The Independent Online


reports from Evian

There may not be much of Alison Nicholas, the smallest player on the American Express Tour, but she plans to give mighty Laura Davies a run for her money in the Evian Masters here this week.

Nicholas and Davies are two of eight members of Europe's last Solheim Cup side, including Helen Alfredsson, the holder, who are in France this week. Nicholas, like Davies, is a former British Open winner. She has won 10 titles in Europe and 11 days ago emulated Davies by completing a maiden LPGA victory in the Corning Classic in New York.

It is now four years since Nicholas last won in Europe but her American success has taken some pressure from her shoulders. She has also changed her playing schedule for the year.

"Winning the Corning guarantees my playing card in America for three years," she said. "I still have to play 15 tournaments as an international member of the LPGA but I have already played 11 while the British and US Opens will also count."

For three years running from 1988 Nicholas finished second on the European merit table but her American win paves the way for an attempt to go one better this year.

"Without having to watch my position on the LPGA money list I can now cut down on my travel and I will be playing in most of the remaining European tournaments," says Nicholas.

With earnings of almost pounds 70,000 Nicholas is in the top 30 on the LPGA money list but some way behind Davies, who took her American winnings for the year to pounds 368,500 when she finished second in the JC Penney Skins Game two weeks ago.

For two years the Midas touch has remained with Davies, who is now only three European wins short of equalling the record 21 by Scotland's Dale Reid. "I have won at least once in Europe each year since 1985 and my first aim is to keep that record going," Davies said.

Marie-Laure de Lorenzi from France and Lancashire's Lora Fairclough, who have both won this year, could dispute the ambitions of Nicholas and Davies, while it can only be a matter of time before Sweden's Annika Sorenstam claims a first European victory.