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Clarke & Els hoping to seal Money Title

Darren Clarke is hoping to make inroads on Ernie Els' Order of Merit lead at this week's dunhill links championship.

Clarke trails the world number two by £345,370 as the pair both eye their first European Order of Merit title.

The celebrity pro-am event features two competitions played concurrently - professional individual and two-man team.

The tournament will be played at Scottish courses Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews.

WGC-NEC champion Clarke will play with Irish racehorse owner and businessman Dermot Desmond, while actors Samuel L Jackson and Hugh Grant will partner Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie respectively.

Els, playing with his father Neels, is the favourite to top this year's standings after his sixth victory of the year in Switzerland three weeks ago.

In last year's dunhill, the South African retired after three rounds when his wife Liezl went into labour, effectively ending his hopes of winning the Order of Merit.

Countryman Retief Goosen and eventual dunhill winner Padraig Harrington pushed him down into third place in the standings in the closing weeks.

I think it's brilliant to see these people in real life

Padraig Harrington

The Els team is not the only father-son combination - USPGA champion Shaun Micheel will play alongside his dad Buck, a retired airline pilot who plays off a six handicap, and former European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance will partner his teenage son Daniel.

Other notable pairings include Andrew Coltart and Sir Steve Redgrave, Ian Woosnam and Ian Botham, Peter O'Malley and Shane Warne, Sandy Lyle and Nigel Mansell and Paul McGinley with former American vice-president Dan Quayle.

In the team event, the best net score at each hole counts.

After 54 holes the 168-pair field reduces to the leading 60 professionals and ties plus the 20 leading teams for the final round at St Andrews.

Twelve months ago, Harrington and fellow Irishman, racehorse owner JP McManus, won the team by by six strokes from Argentine Eduardo Romero and his partner, Edinburgh lawyer Neil Crichton.

A starstruck Harrington said: "You look at stars and go "Wow".

"Nothing about this week is the same as any other week, and it makes you feel special that these people want to come and play with you.

"It's not just a tournament. It's a big show. Some people don't love the amateur format and think it's a hindrance, but personally I think it's brilliant to see these people in real life."

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