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Tour News (posted 5th August 1998)

Nicholas misses WPGA Championship

Press Association

Gleneagles, Scotland - Alison Nicholas has been laid low by illness again and will not be playing in the 300,000 McDonald's WPGA Championship of Europe starting at Gleneagles.

The 36-year-old US Women's Open champion and winner of the European Order of Merit, has suffered a recurrence of the chest infection that kept her out of action for a month on the American tour earlier this year.

Nicholas, awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours list in June, was unwell at the Chrysler Open in Sweden two weeks ago, yet still managed to finish fourth.

"A doctor told me that a lot of the Swedish ice hockey players get the same condition," she said. "My chest was rattling and he put me on a course of antibiotics."

A week at home seemed to get the five-foot Solheim Cup star - "Big Al" as she is known - back to health, but she stated today: "My cold just wouldn't go away and on Sunday I had a sore throat and started to feel rough.

"I woke up on Monday with my head pounding and I could hardly swallow either.

"I felt dreadful and my doctor told me my upper and lower respiratory tracks are bunged up and infected.

"I've got an ear infection as well and it's horrible. I thought about going up to Scotland, but my Mum wouldn't let me and my caddie told me that I was better missing the tournament and getting well again."

She has now turned her sights to recovering in time for the Weetabix Women's British Open at Royal Lytham next week.

That event, the first worth 500,000 in European women's golf history, is also the penultimate qualifying event for next month's Solheim Cup clash at Jack Nicklaus's Muirfield Village course in Columbus, Ohio.

Nicholas currently lies third and with the leading seven guaranteed a place after the Compaq Open back in Sweden on August 23 she should not need one of the five wild cards.

Laura Davies is again the top attraction having ended 10 months without a victory at the Chrysler Open.

The former world number one has been totally overshadowed in the States this year by 20-year-old Korean rookie sensation Se Ri Pak - winner of the first two majors she played in - and Swede Annika Sorenstam, who will both be at Lytham next week.

Davies spoke earlier this year of her concern for the future of European women's golf - there are only eight tournaments this season - but witnessed first-hand today that it is not all doom and gloom, breaking off her preparations to coach Cloe Simpson, a six-year-old from Kirrimuir.

Defending champion is Helen Alfredsson, Europe's current No 1, and the event looks set to match the 400,000 raised in 1997 for the Ronald McDonald charities.