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Els & Singh move rankings battle to Scotland

With Tiger Woods back in the pack and with marriage firmly on his mind, world golfing supremacy will be left up to Vijay Singh and Ernie Els in Europe over the next two tournaments.

Singh ended Woods' long reign as World No. 1 in the United States last month and South African Els leapfrogged him into the No. 2 spot by winning in Ireland last weekend.

Both men will play this week from Thursday in the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and go on to contest next week's Wentworth World Match Play Championship.

Singh had been due to play in the World Golf Championship event in Kilkenny, but withdrew after Hurricane Jeanne damaged his Florida home.

The Fijian has won in five of his last six starts and has eight titles to his name already this year amassing a huge $9.4 million in the process.

He looks assured of winning a second successive U.S. money title and while Els could conceivably dethrone him at Wentworth it would take two uncharateristically poor performances from Singh to open the door.

On current form that looks highly unlikely.

Els though could retain the European Order of Merit title this weekend with a strong performance at the Dunhill Links played over three of Scotland's top courses -- St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie.

He has already broken Lee Westwood's earnings record for the year and he has a healthy leading margin over compatriot Retief Goosen, winner of the title the two previous seasons.

Els has the chance as well this week to overtake Colin Montgomerie and become the biggest money-earner in European Tour history.

With $26 million in the bag since his debut in 1991 he is less than $178,000 behind the Scot, who made his debut in 1987.

Ten of Europe's triumphant Ryder Cup team play this week, plus other major winners in Goosen, Rich Beem, Fred Couples, Ben Curtis, Steve Elkington, Paul Lawrie, Sandy Lyle, Jose Maria Olazabal and Ian Woosnam.

Westwood is the defending champion, having beaten Els by a shot last year after an albatross in his third round at Kingsbarns.

The tournament has also a strong celebrity aspect with the pro-am including the like of, Sir Steve Redgrave, Ian Botham, Nasser Hussein, Michael Vaughan, Sir Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff, Kenny Dalglish, supermodel Jodie Kidd, actors Samuel L Jackson, Michael Douglas and Hugh Grant and former American vice-president Dan Quayle.

The pro-am title is being defended by Sam Torrance and his teenage son Daniel, who plays off a one handicap.

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