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Ryder Cup players head for Belfry

Several European Ryder Cup players get the opportunity for invaluable match practice at the Belfry's Brabazon course this week when the Benson and Hedges International signals the European Tour's arrival in England.

Retief Goosen and Jose Maria Olazabal, currently top and third in the Volvo Order of Merit, head an illustrious field which includes Colin Montgomerie, in his first event since parting company with caddie Alastair McLean, and Padraig Harrington.

Olazabal, the 2000 winner, should be the man to beat after a dramatic start to the season which sees him third on the US moneylist following his Buick Invitational win earlier in the year.

He finished a creditable tie for sixth in last week's French Open, his first strokeplay appearance of the year on European soil, and his tie for 27th at the B&H last year ended a four-year streak of top 20 finishes.

Goosen came in a tame 8th at the Spanish Open last month after his heroic runners-up spot at the Masters. With two top ten finishes the last two seasons, the US Open champion should figure prominently at the weekend.

Harrington has mixed memories of the tournament. Superb play saw him prepare to embark on the final round of the 2000 tournament with a five-stroke lead.

But the affable Irishman was disqualified just moments before his last round when it emerged he'd earlier incorrectly signed scorecard following the first round.

Harrington, Montgomerie, Thomas Björn, Darren Clarke, Niclas Fasth, Pierre Fulke, Bernhard Langer, Paul McGinley, Phillip Price and Lee Westwood, alongside Captain Sam Torrance himself are all in the tournament and all will be eager for four rounds ahead of September's 34th Ryder Cup matches.


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