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Westwood tipped for $2m Sun City prize

Lee Westwood, this year's European money winning champion, is the players' favorite to win this weekend's Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The event, at the Gary Player Country Club, used to offer first-place money of $1 million, but is giving away $2 million this year.

Nick Price, winner of the U.S. PGA Championship in 1992 and 1994 and the British Open in 1994, said Westwood's 2000 record of winning six tournaments makes him the player to beat in the world's richest tournament.

"I can't say enough good about the guy,'' said Price, who won the old Million Dollar Golf Challenge three times. "I have been very impressed with his play this year, and I love his attitude.''

In the pro-am event preceding the tournament, Price shot a 66, Westwood a 69.

Westwood is the highest-ranked European in the world at No. 5. In winning the European Order of Merit, he ended Colin Montgomerie's seven-year streak.

Westwood credits his improved game to sports psychologist Bob Rotella.

"I'm mentally at another level now,'' he said.

Defending champion Ernie Els, who has been struggling with a back injury, pronounced himself fit.

"My back's fine, and I feel good about my chances,'' he said. "I'm a little short of match play, but there's not much I can do about that. I am striking the ball well off the tee, but my irons don't feel right yet. I hope they will come good over the next few days.''

Darren Clarke, ranked No. 11 in the world, also merits strong consideration after his final two rounds of 64 and 65 for third place in 1999. It was the lowest score over the final 36 in tournament history. He also did well in the pro-am, shooting a 68.

Three newcomers to the tournament also rate highly: Michael Campbell, Thomas Bjorn, and Stuart Appleby, but history has not favored novices.

 

 

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