Friday, May 01, 2009

Els features in the European Open

Ernie Els will make his first appearance in The European Open for 15 years when he lines up at The London Golf Club against a world-class field including World Number Three Sergio Garcia, Ryder Cup stars Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood, teenage sensation Rory McIlroy and India’s greatest golfer, Jeev Milkha Singh. Els has won 24 European Tour titles and over 60 worldwide and the 39 year old would dearly love to add The European Open title to his extensive CV of wins from all around the globe. With spectators having the chance to watch the world’s leading players free of charge when the tournament takes place from May 28-31, the atmosphere is sure to be electric. Els last played in The European Open in 1994 - the year he also won the first of his three Major Championships with victory in the US Open Championship at Oakmont– and will be aiming to become only the second South African champion after Retief Goosen in 2004.“It’s been a while since I last played in The European Open so I am very much looking forward playing in Kent and getting my first taste of The London Golf Club,” he said. “I heard great things about the set up and the wonderful atmosphere last year and I’m looking forward to having a crack at the title.” Garcia made a bold bid for the trophy last year when he closed with a six under par 66 but was unable to catch England’s Ross Fisher, who romped to a seven stroke victory, and the Spaniard will be hoping to go one better this year when the tournament returns to the North Kent venue, close to Brands Hatch. Garcia said: “I am pleased to be returning to The London Golf Club for the European Open again this year. At last year’s tournament I played four days of solid golf and just missed out to Ross (Fisher) who played a fantastic weekend of golf. “The course was in great shape last year and it suits the way I play, it’s a tournament I enjoy being part of! There are some big names heading over there again this year with the likes of Ernie (Els), Rory (McIlroy), Lee (Westwood) and, of course, Ross, all set to play, so it should make for another exciting weekend of golf” McIlroy has emerged as one of the most exciting talents in world golf, the young man from Northern Ireland who turns 20 next week having made his winning breakthrough with a sensational win in the Dubai Desert Classic in January, a victory which helped him to his current position of fourth in The Race to Dubai. Fellow Ulsterman Darren Clarke, a former winner of the event, having captured the title in 2001 at The K Club in Ireland, is also in the field. Two victories last year heralded his return to form and the five time Ryder Cup player will be looking to add to his 12 European Tour titles. Westwood is another former European Open champion, having won back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000, and always attracts plenty of home support. Singh has established himself as India’s finest golfer with three European Tour titles and nine other titles worldwide, including three victories last year, and he has continued to impress on the world stage this season. They will all attempt to succeed Fisher as champion following the Englishman’s superb performance on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage Course in 2008, which included an opening round, course record 63.

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