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Top players commit to dunhill championship

Fiji's Vijay Singh, fresh from his dramatic victory in the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, is to play in the 2004 dunhill links championship at St Andrews from October 7-10.

Singh, who defeated Americans Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco over a thrilling three hole play-off to win his third major championship last month, will be facing one of the strongest ever fields in the dunhill links championship, including World No.3 Ernie Els, double US Open winner Retief Goosen, three-time major winner Nick Price and a strong European contingent led by World No.8 and 2002 dunhill links champion Padraig Harrington and defending dunhill links champion Lee Westwood.

Scotland's favourite Colin Montgomerie, celebrating his wild card call-up to the Ryder Cup team, will also be playing, along with popular Northern Ireland star Darren Clarke.

Some of the most exciting young golfers in the world will be in the field including Ryder Cup team members Luke Donald, winner of the Scandinavian Masters, and Paul Casey, who finished sixth in this year's US Masters and tenth in The Players Championship, plus Australia's talented young star Adam Scott, currently 12th in the world rankings, who won The Players Championship at Sawgrass in May and the Booz Allen Classic in June. Scott has won over $3 million in prize money so far on the US Tour this year.

The dunhill links championship was conceived as a celebration of links golf and is played over three of the world's best known and respected links courses: The Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie, and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links from Thursday, October 7 ? Sunday, October 10. Other entrants include:

· Steve Elkington - 1995 US PGA Champion, twice winner of The Players Championship · Rich Beem ? 2002 US PGA Champion after a one stroke victory over Tiger Woods · Paul McGinley ? the man who holed the winning putt in the 2002 Ryder Cup · Jan Van de Velde ? famous for his attempt to win The Open at Carnoustie in 1999 · Michael Campbell - New Zealand winner of thirteen titles worldwide, six in Europe · Eduardo Romero ? Argentinian winner of eight titles on the European Tour · Ian Poulter ? five-time winner on the European Tour, with a colourful dress sense · Costantino Rocca - St Andrews hero after his 1995 Open play-off with John Daly.

Vijay Singh, whose name means 'Victory' in Hindi, has had a superb year, winning four times on the US Tour in addition to the US PGA Championship. He has overtaken Ernie Els to move to No 2 in the world rankings and has narrowed the gap on Tiger Woods at No.1.

Singh, who has already won almost $7 million in prize money and is No.1 in the US money list this year, won his first US PGA Championship in 1998 and the US Masters in 2000.

England's Lee Westwood scored a courageous last round 67 on the Old Course to win by a stroke from South African Ernie Els last year. It was his second tournament win in a month which followed a dispiriting three years in which he had not won and had slipped to 250th in the world rankings. His victory was cheered by record final day galleries.

Amateurs will once again be sharing centre stage with the professionals and among those who played last year were Samuel L Jackson, Jodie Kidd, Gianluca Vialli, Johan Cruyff, Gary Lineker, and Tico Torres of Bon Jovi. There was an emotional moment which delighted the Scottish golf fans when former European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance playing with his 15-year-old son Daniel won the team pro-am competition. The Torrances are expected to return to defend their title.

Admission to the dunhill links championship will once again be FREE on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A ticket price of £15 (concessionary £8) will be charged for the final day's play over the Old Course on Sunday, October 10. Under 16's and students are FREE. Tickets are available through the ticket hotline on 0870 010 9021 or at the entrance gate. There is free parking for spectators, and a free shuttle bus service will be in operation between courses.

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