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Laura Davies heads Ladies World Cup challenge

Former world number one Laura Davies of England will line-up with compatriot Trish Johnson to form one of the strongest teams in next week's IR£500,000 Ladies World Cup of Golf in Limerick, Ireland.

Davies, a two-time winner in America this year, and Johnson, the winner of last month's Daily Telegraph Ladies British Masters, will be amongst the 25 teams from across the world taking part in this inaugural, ground-breaking event for women's professional golf. Also starting as favourites at Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Club will be the Swedish team represented by Sophie Gustafson and Carin Koch, and a Scottish side featuring Kathryn Marshall and Catriona Matthew.

Like Davies and Johnson, both Gustafson and Koch will be part of the European line up in next month's Solheim Cup at Loch Lomond. Gustafson qualified automatically following a season that has seen her win three times in Europe, including the Weetabix Women's British Open, and once in America. Koch, meanwhile, was selected as one of the Solheim captain's wild cards on the strength of her victory in June's Chrysler Open in Sweden and her consistent form throughout the year in the United States.

The Scottish duo of Marshall and Matthew were also in the reckoning for Solheim selection, but both players fell just short of forcing their way into Dale Reid's side. Having missed out on the chance to represent Europe, Marshall and Matthew will want to use the Ladies World Cup of Golf to prove that they should have been in the team.

Laura Davies will head English Challenge. Allsport.

"Now that we have both the teams and players confirmed, I think we can look forward to a high quality event at Adare Manor," said World Cup Player Liaison Officer Mickey Walker.

"Not only do we have a very international line up of teams, which is the purpose of this event, we also have some of the very best performers in women's professional golf.

"Professional golfers rarely get the chance to play for anyone except themselves, and I have no doubt that each player will be determined to do her very best for their respective countries." The French team of Marine Monnet and Sandrine Mendiburu is likely to start as one of the outside favourites over the Robert Trent Jones Snr design.

Monnet, still playing her first full season as a professional, came agonisingly close to securing a spot in the European Solheim Cup team, but needed to win last weekend's Kronenbourg 1664 Chart Hills Classic to force her way into the automatic qualifying zone. In the event, the 22-year-old Parisian missed out on a place in the playoff by a solitary shot.

Earlier this season, Monnet finished runner-up in the Waterford Crystal Ladies Irish Open in County Waterford and will be looking to build on this success when she returns to Ireland next week. Nor is the more experienced Mendiburu a stranger to success in Ireland. Last season she beat Davies in a four-way playoff for the Donegal Ladies Irish Open, before securing her second victory in as many weeks at the Hannover Expo 2000 Ladies Open in Germany.

The American team players, Kellee Booth and Heather Bowie, may still be in their rookie season on the LPGA Tour in America, but they will still start amongst the favourites at Adare Manor. Booth gave evidence of her ability to play in European conditions when she finished joint 10th last month in the Weetabix Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale, while Bowie has had three top-10 finishes in the US this season.

Jenny Lidback and Alicia Dibos, who will be representing Peru, both play on the LPGA in America and are also likely to be amongst the front runners next week. Each of the 25 teams will be required to play 54 holes at Adare Manor and prizes will be awarded to the leading team and individual scores.

The team finishing in first place will receive IR£75,000, with IR£50,000 going to the runners-up and IR£35,000 to the team finishing third. The player with the leading individual 54-hole score will receive a cheque for IR£37,500.


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