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Unfinished business in Biarritz for LET

The £100,000 Biarritz Ladies Classic, starting Thursday, brings to a close the 2001 season on the Evian Tour. But there is still some unfinished business to attend to for the 120 players at this 113-year-old Biarritz La Phare GC on the Bay of Biscay.

While Spain's Raquel Carriedo is confirmed as the Order of merit winner, winning three times this season, the battle for the runners up spot, and with it the 'Bill Johnson Rookie of the year' title, will be decided between Norway's Suzann Pettersen and Karine Icher from France.

The powerful 20-year-old from Oslo leads the race over Icher by 1041 points, with 1500 available to the winner this week.

While Icher has won twice this year - ironically defeating Pettersen at the wire in the Ladies German Open, and in a playoff at the Mexx Sport Open in Holland, it is Pettersen, winner of the French Open in June, who has been the most consistent with five top ten places in nine counting events played.

With an 11th place finish in the flagship Evian Masters - only her third event as a professional - and after recording an eight under par 64 - the lowest score of the week at the Weetabix British Open at Sunningdale, Pettersen has shown an appetite for the big events, accumulating the most points.

Whoever wins the title will join a start studded list of top women's golfers, including England's Laura Davies, award winner in 1985, Trish Johnson in 1987, and the top two players in the women's game, Annika Sorenstam from Sweden who won the award in 1993, and Karrie Webb from Australia, the 1995 recipient.

At the opposite end of the scale, many players will be battling to avoid the dreaded trip to Tour qualifying school in Portugal at the end of October.

Sweden's Malin Burstrom, having spent eleven years on Tour, will have to consolidate her 86th position on the order of merit with a good week to avoid the trip to Aroeira near Lisbon.

Despite having a back injury in Germany and Ireland, the 30-year-old from Helsingborg is now fully fit and confident she can avoid booking her flight to Lisbon if she can stay within the top 90 on the order of merit.

England's Wendy Dicks, currently in 85th place and with nine years experience on Tour, will have to sweat it out as she takes a holiday this week in Las Vegas. And Ireland's top player Aideen Rogers will have to move up five places to secure her playing rights next year.

Carriedo starts as favourite this week around this short, tricky course. But the 30-year-old from Zaragoza will have competition from her in-form compatriots, Marina Arruti from San Sebastian, who won the Women's Spanish PGA last week in a playoff from another Tour rookie, 21-year-old Paula Marti from Barcelona.

Scotland's Kathryn Marshall makes a welcome return to the Tour, having spent most of her season on the LPGA. The 33-year-old from Broughty Ferry near Dundee did not want to return to the USA for her last event of the season after the recent atrocities in America.

Local interest will centre on Biarritz's Marie Laure de Lorenzi, returning to form after a quiet year, with an eighth place finish in the WPGA International Matchplay at Gleneagles.

And making a welcome return to Tour golf is Sandrine Mendiburu from nearby Bayonne. The 28-year-old gave birth to her son Hugo three months ago and this week will be the first strokeplay Tour event she has played this season.

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