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Curtis returns to Europe for Lancome Trophy

American rookie Ben Curtis, surprise winner of the 2003 British Open, returns to Europe for this week's Lancome Trophy at Saint-Nom-La-Breteche in Paris.

Curtis, a 300-1 outsider at the start of the tournament before clinching the 132nd British Open by a shot from Dane Thomas Bjorn in July, has missed two cuts in his last four events.

However, the 26-year-old from Kent, Ohio has had more important matters on his mind since his breakthrough victory at Royal St George's, having married his fiancee Candace Beatty during last month's WGC-NEC Invitational.

"I just had fun that week," Curtis told reporters of his tie for 30th at the Firestone Country Club's South Course.

"I tried to enjoy it out on the course and not worry about the golf game. But golf was kind of secondary that week -- it was the best week of my life no matter what I shot."

Curtis dashed off to attend his wedding after firing a two-over-par 72 in the NEC Invitational's third round, and carded a closing 70 as a married man the following day.

The next week, he missed the cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship, after rounds of 75 and 74, and has not played since.

The three-times Ohio amateur champion, who turned professional in 2000, will be playing this week in France alongside the likes of Ireland's world number nine Padraig Harrington, and Britons Justin Rose and the resurgent Lee Westwood.

Harrington returns to tournament action for the first time since the WGC-NEC Invitational following the birth of his son Patrick, while Rose is in good form after finishing third at the PGA Tour's Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.

Former European number one Westwood will be looking to build on his three-shot triumph two weeks ago at the BMW International Open in Munich, his first title for almost three years.

Germany's Alex Cejka, who had to settle for second place behind Westwood on home soil, is defending champion this week, having ended a seven-year victory drought in Paris last year by firing a final-round 68.

Also in the field are former winners Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain (1998), Sweden's Pierre Fulke (1999) and South African Retief Goosen (2000).


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