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An Eye on Europe

European TourThings seemed to change on the European Tour in 2001. There was a new South African sheriff in town. The reigning Order of Merit money-winning champion went AWOL. And though he won twice, the big Scotsman wasnt the dominating factor that he had been over the past decade.
So what should we expect in 2002? Here are few names to keep an eye on:
At the top of the viewing list is Retief Goosen. The 33-year-old South African won twice on the continent, as well as the U.S. Open. He also became the second man in as many years to top the money list ' this after Colin Montgomerie held the earnings title for seven straight seasons.
He's already won this year's Johnnie Walker Classic, and is second in earnings entering the Dubai Desert Classic. Splitting his time between the European and PGA Tours, it will be difficult for him to repeat as Order of Merit champion - though its hard to fathom that he could slip as far as the 2000 winner did in 2001.
Lee Westwood went from King of the Hill to run of the mill this past season. One year removed from ending Montgomeries monetary reign, Westwood fell to 52nd on the money list ' the first time in five seasons that he had finished outside the top three.
From 1998 to 2000, Westwood won 12 times in Europe. This past year he posted a big bagel in the victory department.
Part of Westwoods professional descent can be traced to the birth of his first child the week of the Masters Tournament. The other part? Whatever it is, its something the 28-year-old Englishman must correct in order to redirect his 2002.
With Westwoods unexpected demise, Sergio Garcia is battling Goosen for the title of Europes best ' even if he plays primarily in the States.
Still, there are a number of quality players who will compete primarily on their home tour.
Expect great things from Padraig Harrington. The 30-year-old Irishman has 12 second-place finishes compared to three victories over the past three seasons. But he won the season-ending Volvo Masters and is in the best shape of his life.
Hes fared well in the States, and theres no reason ' after a runner-up finish (of course) on the Order of Merit in 2001 ' that he shouldnt vie for the top honor in 02.
And perhaps, so too, will Monty make a run for an eighth career money title. The 38-year-old Scot recorded his ninth consecutive multiple-win season in 2001, and finished fifth in earnings.
After hastily saying he may never return to the U.S. following the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Montgomerie may have added opportunities to regain his European dominance.
Montgomeries hopes to collect that elusive first major may be drawing nigh, however, as for the second straight year he failed to record a top 10 in a major championship.
In 1999, Paul Lawrie hoisted the Claret Jug with a helping hand from Jean Van de Velde. Neither man has since found much success, though the end of 2001 did bring with it some hope.
Lawrie won the Dunhill Links Championship, while the Frenchman earned just enough money to retain his card for the upcoming season.
Both men are worth watching in 2002.
As is Justin Rose. For the first time in his brief but very public career, Rose did not have to go through Q-School in order to gain his European Tour playing privilege. He nearly won twice and finished a surprising 33rd on the money list.
He's already built upon that success in 2002, winning the Alfred Dunhill South African PGA Championship.
Another early victor is Jose Maria Olazabal. The 36-year-old Spaniard won the 2001 Omega Hong Kong Open, which was an official '02 event.
He has also posted a pair of top-5 finishes to currently top the money list. Add those to a victory in the PGA Tour's Buick Invitational, and talk should persist as to whether or not the veteran should be considered for the European Ryder Cup team.
One final player to keep an eye on is Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance. The 48-year-old had his worst season ever on tour in 2001 (finishing 180th on the money list), while trying to balance his playing schedule and his captaincy duties.
Due to the Ryder Cup postponement, Torrance will once again have dual roles in 2002. Yes, hes nearing that Senior stage, but the 21-time tour winner made 16 of 19 cuts in 2000, when he focused primarily on playing.