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US Open Champion Retief Goosen Returns to Action at The K Club

Retief Goosen
Retief Goosen returns to action for the first time since his US Open Championship victory at Shinnecock Hills attempting to become only the fourth player to add the Smurfit European Open to a Major Championship title in the same season.

Bernhard Langer won the title after his first Masters Tournament success in 1985 while Greg Norman and Nick Faldo won the title two months after winning the Open Championship in 1986 and 1992 respectively. The South African will be attempting to join that elite group when he and the rest of the field pit their skills against the new Smurfit Course at The K Club.

Goosen, the World Number Seven, is joined by other Major Champions Nick Faldo, Paul Lawrie, Sandy Lyle, José Mara Olazábal and Ian Woosnam in an impressive line-up.

One place behind Goosen in the Official World Golf Ranking is Padraig Harrington and the Dubliner will be particularly keen to emulate Darren Clarke’s 2001 success as the only Irishman to win the event, first played in 1978.

It would also break a personal duck for the 32 year old who has never tasted European Tour success in his native country, despite winning in almost every continent in the world.

Clarke, the World Number 15, will be looking to achieve the double of winning on both courses at The K Club, having triumphed on what is now known as the Palmer Course in 2001, while another Ulsterman, Graeme McDowell will arrive brimming with confidence following his course record 64 in the final round of last week’s Open de France. That lifted McDowell, winner of the Telecom Italian Open in May, to fourth and he will be looking to continue his fine form.

Phillip Price of Wales defends the title following his wire-to-wire victory 12 months ago, a brave birdie on the final hole taking him clear of Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth and Mark McNulty, who has subsequently taken up Irish citizenship. Victory marked the start of a phenomenal three week spell for the Ryder Cup player in which he finished first, joint second and joint tenth in three of the biggest events of the year.

Phillip Price
Only two golfers in the quarter of a century since the event began have won the prestigious title in successive years, both coming in the past eight seasons, the first being Per-Ulrik Johansson in 1996 and 1997, while the second was Lee Westwood in 1999 and 2000.

Ten of Europe’s victorious 2002 Ryder Cup team will be in action with Clarke, Harrington and Price joined by Thomas Björn, Niclas Fasth, Pierre Fulke, Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie, Jesper Parnevik, who makes his debut in the event, and Westwood.

Record prize money of €3,300,088 (£2.2 million) is on offer for the tenth edition of the Smurfit European Open at The K Club, with the winner taking home (€550,005) £366,660.

The spectacular and challenging Smurfit Course will be hosting the event for the first time after nine years over the Palmer Course. The Palmer Course will stage next year’s Smurfit European Open with the tournament reverting to The Smurfit Course in 2006, the same year as The 36th Ryder Cup Matches are played over the Palmer Course.

Courtesy of http://www.europeantour.com/  

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