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Strong field gathers for the Algarve Open de Portugal Caixa Geral de Depositos

 Christopher Hanell

Four players who have already tasted success on The European Tour International Schedule this season – Joakim Haeggman, Christopher Hanell, Miguel Angel Jiménez and Marcel Siem – will each attempt to become the first double winner of 2004 when they take their places in the field for this week’s Algarve Open de Portugal Caixa Geral de Depositos at Le Meridien Penina Golf & Resort.

Siem was the first of the quartet onto the season’s Roll of Honour when he picked up the dunhill championship in South Africa in February beating the French duo of Gregory Havret and Raphaël Jacquelin in a sudden-death play-off at Houghton Golf Club.

He was followed the week after by Jiménez, who held off the challenge of Thomas Björn to win the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand and continue an excellent spell of form which began with his win in the Turespaña Mallorca Classic the previous October.

Such has been the Spaniard’s excellent run that he is prominently placed on both The Ryder Cup World Points List and The Ryder Cup European Points List and as well as the lure of the prestigious Algarve Open de Portugal title, there are further vital Ryder Cup points at stake this week too.

Miguel Angel Jimenez
Another player keen to amass them is Haeggman, who was the first Swedish golfer to play in The Ryder Cup in 1993, and who reignited his hopes of featuring again at Oakland Hills Country Club in September when he captured the Qatar Masters three weeks ago.

Haeggman was one of Sam Torrance’s backroom staff during Europe’s memorable victory over the United States at The De Vere Belfry in 2002 and the Swede admitted: “Walking down the fairways with Sam I enjoyed it, but I couldn't see why I shouldn't be playing.

"I played boys golf with Björn, Clarke and all the top guys and I was at least as good as them. I feel I'm back. I think I can cope with the pressure again and play at the highest level.”

The last member of the quartet only joined the exalted company last weekend, Hanell claiming his maiden European Tour title with a one shot victory in the Madeira Island Open at Santo da Serra.

Marcel Siem
Should Hanell win again, he would become the first player since Vijay Singh in 2001 to win consecutive tournaments on The European Tour International Schedule, Singh’s victories coming in the Carlsberg Malaysian Open and the Caltex Singapore Masters.

Six former winners of the event, including the last two winners at Le Meridien Penina Golf & Resort - Gary Orr and Van Phillips – will also be competing alongside players such as Ignacio Garrido and Andrew Oldcorn, two of the past three winners of the Volvo PGA Championship.

Last year’s Algarve Open de Portugal title was won by Fredrik Jacobson, the Swede claiming the second of three titles of the season with the help of a magnificent pitch in for eagle on the penultimate hole at Vale do Lobo. That edged him ahead of Brian Davis, Bradley Dredge and Jamie Donaldson and the latter Welsh duo are again taking part with the aim of going one better this year.

The Algarve Open de Portugal Caixa Geral de Depositos is one of the most popular events on The European Tour International Schedule, dating back to 1953. The Championship course at Le Meridien Penina Golf & Resort, designed by the late Sir Henry Cotton, has hosted the event on six previous occasions.


Courtesy of www.europeantour.com

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