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Els & Goosen favourites for Dunhill Links

Ernie Els and Retief Goosen might have an advantage over their rivals in the Dunhill Links championship. They have no Ryder Cup euphoria to overcome.

While players on the European team are still enjoying their victory over the U.S team, the two South Africans come off a tournament-free week.

Several of the nine European team members admitted they were having trouble calming down since winning at The Belfry.

European captain Sam Torrance dropped out, saying he felt "physically and emotionally drained" and had a sore neck. The three team members not playing are Bernhard Langer, Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik.

The others are here, including Paul McGinley, who made the winning putt Sunday.

"It's just been a whirlwind of excitement and pleasure and adrenalin," McGinley said.

"I'll enjoy this week and I'll play, but I don't want to have a reality check. I want to keep the happiness and the joy going. It is so special."

He described the moment before he sank the winning 9-foot putt.

"It was like a bottle of champagne that you shake and shake and the bubbles can't come out," he said. "Then I saw the putt go in and the top exploded off the champagne."

Colin Montgomerie, who won 4 1/2 points out of five Ryder Cup matches, seemed cooler than most. He arrived for the Dunhill Links only on Wednesday, the day before the tournament begins.

"I haven't had a practice round, so it's a bit of pot luck, really," he said.

"I know I'm swinging the club well. It's a matter of how lucky you are with the wind on the course where you're playing."

This pro-am tournament is being played over three Scottish links courses, the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kings Barns. The winner earns $800,000.

All 168 pros in the field play with an amateur for three rounds and there is a cut after the third round. The last round is at St. Andrews.

Goosen, winner of last year's Order of Merit, currently holds a slender lead over Els and is favored to retain the title of top European money winner. He will play more of this year's events, including the Volvo Masters in Valderrama in November, which ends the European season.

Els is playing on the U.S. tour the previous week and knows Goosen has the advantage.

"He's had a great year," Els said. "It's going to be really tough for me to compete because I'm not going to play.

"If I have any chance, I have to play well this week."

Els' wife is expected to give birth next week. "There is a plane waiting. If anything happens, I'm out of here," he said.

Els finished second last year after Paul Lawrie sank a 60-foot birdie putt uphill in front of the 18th green on the Old Course to win by a stroke.

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