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Top Europeans may skip Firestone WGC

Darren Clarke joined Colin Montgomerie yesterday in suggesting that he may return to Scotland in August for the £1million Gleneagles Scottish PGA Championship, rather than travel to Akron in the United States for the £3.6million NEC Invitational.

The possibility of two players ranked in the world’s top ten choosing to leave a World Championship event off their schedules is a tribute to the appeal of Gleneagles and the efforts of the organisers, who nearly tripled the prize fund.

"I would like to play Glen-eagles," said Clarke. "I’ve enjoyed playing there in the past - it’s one of my favourite places. They’ve done a fantastic job to get such a big prize fund. On the other hand, I want to get as high up the world rankings as I can, and more of the best players in the world will be at the NEC."

The Scotsman revealed in May that Monty was giving serious thought to including Gleneagles on his schedule rather than the NEC. Yesterday, he confirmed that he was still mulling over the possibility.

The top 12 on the European Ryder Cup table are eligible to compete in the NEC, and at the moment Andrew Coltart is another Scot who is qualified to play in Akron as well as tackling the PGA Centenary course.

His manager, Andrew Chandler, indicated yesterday that if Coltart was still in the frame when the World Championship field is finalised, a decision would be taken about where he plays that week, on the basis of what was more likely to help him into the Ryder Cup team.

If it was felt playing well at Gleneagles would be more beneficial to Coltart than playing indifferently in Akron, then he, too, might opt to support the event in Scotland.



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