While 2001 was the year of the rookie, last season heralded a return to the familiar. Youth was still able to prosper, but some more established faces regained the limelight, while three of the Evian Tour’s most popular journeywomen took unexpected titles. Of course, Annika Sorenstam remained head and shoulders above the pack, with three victories from her four sorties into Europe: she was simply outstanding.

Tinning – a year to remember

Kanna Takanashi, of Japan, was the champion of a downgraded event in Portugal before Karine Icher, of France, won in Salamanca, the Spanish city of learning. Following that came Sorenstam’s clinical and brilliant command of the Evian Masters, New Zealander Lynnette Brooky’s joyous triumph at the French Open and Laura Davies’ return to winning ways at the inaugural Norwegian Open.

Just as it looked as though the big guns were going to sew up the rest of the season, Webb taking the Weetabix British Open at Turnberry and Sorenstam the Compaq Open in her native Sweden, Asa Gottmo triumphed amid the confusion at Royal Porthcawl. With all eyes on the dead heat for the final Solheim Cup spot, Gottmo’s victory in the WPGA Championship of Europe went almost unnoticed. So we herald her here, for a superb effort and a maiden victory in her ninth year on tour.

Webb – her sixth major championship

No review would be complete without further mention of Tinning, who became the first Danish woman professional to win an event anywhere in the world when she edged home in wet and windy Ireland. She promptly won again a week later and was involved in the Solheim Cup qualification drama when her share of the points in Porthcawl tied her for the final European place with Sweden’s Maria Hjorth. After a testing start in Minnesota, she picked up two points, winning her singles, making 2002 a year she will not forget in a hurry.

Webb was masterful at Turnberry and can now satisfy the small print of a career grand slam, which now includes the British Open with its major status. Meanwhile the likes of Marti and Pettersen provided further evidence that they will soon be threatening the world order, even though they did not win on the Evian Tour this time. Kirsty S. Taylor, the larger than life Briton who turned professional after a row with the amateur powers that be, proved golf is for all shapes and sizes by finishing third in Porthcawl and taking the Rookie of the Year award.

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