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Golf News: - Posted 18th December 1997

Alison Nicholas wants major figurehead for WPGET

London - US Women's Open champion Alison Nicholas has urged the European Tour to appoint a major figurehead who can carry the sport forward and help in its bid to catch up with the American game.

The European Tour is much smaller than its American equivalent despite the giant strides made in recent years by leading figures such as Nicholas, Annika Sorenstam and Laura Davies.

Nicholas, who picked up the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Award in London on Wednesday, admits that the European Tour may never be able to operate on an equal footing with the Stateside version as it struggles to attract enough sponsors to sustain a full-scale series of events.

But she believes Europe now has to appoint someone who can give the sport a much-needed image boost.

"We'll never be level with the Americans but we're going through a crucial phase in our development and we have to get it right this time," said the 35-year-old Solheim Cup international.

"In the past we've relied too heavily on one person to do it all, but now we need to have a leader who will bring in all sorts of other people with their own individual expertise to market it properly.

"I really believe that this tour can thrive but it's going to take a lot of hard work to make it so."

Nicholas also hinted that she would like to see fellow women take a more active role in the game in this country and that they could even play an influential part in determining who sponsors tour events.

"Women are making very high-powered decisions in business in the modern era and hopefully we can see that come across in things like sponsorship of our events,'' she said.

Nicholas, who beat heptathlete Denise Lewis to the Sunday Times award, said: "It's so thrilling to be recognised for your achievements by people other than those in your sport.

"The win at the US Open gives you motivation to keep going but when it is recognised in a wider context it makes it somewhat more of an achievement.''