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Last minute invitation for Justin Rose

Justin Rose will take advantage of his fine performance at the Alfred Dunhill Championship last week by accepting a sponsor's invitation to this week's Mercedes-Benz South Africa Open in East London.

However the 20-year-old will be denied the opportunity to go head-to-head with young rival Adam Scott after the Australian withdrew with an injury.

The European Tour is still talking about the climax of last week's tournament, when Scott recorded his maiden win with a one shot victory over Rose at South Africa's Houghton Golf Club.

However a recurrence of a knee injury has prevented Scott from following up that victory at the windswept coastal course.

Nevertheless the field for the $1 million event remains attractive. Defending champion Mathias Gronberg will have to fend off the challenge of, among others, Darren Clarke and Denmark's Thomas Bjorn. For Bjorn, who finished fifth on the European Tour Order of Merit in 2000, it will be his first event since undergoing foot surgery towards the end of last year.

Rose's inclusion is a controversial one. Under Southern Africa Tour regulations Rose should have had to pre-qualify despite his second place finish at Houghton, but his performance last week so impressed Louis Martin, chief executive of the Southern Africa Tour, that he asked Cape professional Shane Howe to give up a sponsor's invitation to the Open.

After lengthy discussions with Martin, Howe accepted he would have to pre-qualify which he failed to do.

"This is a very magnanimous gesture and one Shane Howe took in the interest of golf in South Africa," Martin told Reuters.

"I feel strongly that if a player finished second in the Alfred Dunhill Championship, he should be exempt for the SA Open. If I didn't do this I would have been a hypocrite," said Howe.


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