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Heat a big factor at Dunhill Championship

Heat could be a major factor when the field tees up for the 2005 Dunhill Championship at the Leopard Creek Country Club on Thursday, according to world number three Ernie Els.

Temperatures soared to 44 degrees Celsius on Tuesday and are expected to reach similar figures throughout the week.

"The heat is definitely going to be a big factor this week," said Els. "The guys are going to feel it and they will need to take on a lot of fluids and look after themselves.

"This is a long course and a long walk and the Kikuyu grass makes it even tougher and I guess the guys that grew up in South Africa are more used to it."

The big South African is the headline attraction in a weakened field for the European Tour co-sanctioned event that includes just six players in the top-200.

President's Cup player Tim Clark, ranked 71st and Denmark's Anders Hansen (94) are the only other golfers inside the world's top-100 in the field.

Champion Marcel Siem from Germany is also among the starters at the course, which lies along the western boundary of the Kruger National Park Game Reserve.

Clark also agreed that the heat would be a major factor.

"I was dead tired after my round yesterday," he said. "I had a headache and needed to go and lay down to recover.

"For guys who aren't used to it, it will play a big part, particularly at the end of the round when the mind starts to go.

"This is a week of golf and a week of endurance."

Els, who rarely plays in his home country, said the decision to move the event to December from its early February slot to allow top local players to return to participate was a good one.

"You'll see a lot of the top South Africans returning to play here if they can push the events to this time of the season," Els said.

"For us South Africans it is a good thing because it gives us a chance to play the Sunshine Tour although I'm not sure how good it is for the European Tour players."

The par-72, 7316-yard course is hosting a European event for the first time although it was the venue for the Sunshine Tour's season-ending championship over the past four years.

"I've played the course many times," said Els. "The par-threes are among the toughest you'll see anywhere although there is not a lot of rough.

"It is a long-hitter's course and I think we will see some good scoring over the next few days."

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