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Booz Allen Classic
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All change for Ernie Els

Ernie Els looking for US Open warm up

Ernie Els returns to site of his 1997 U.S. Open victory for The Booz Allen Classic at the Congressional Country Club in Potomac, Maryland this week still searching for his first PGA Tour win of the year.

With the tournament's regular home, the TPC at Avenel, being evaluated for renovations, the Booz Allen was moved to the Congressional, attracting eight of the world's top 10 players including number one Vijay Singh, in the run up to next week's U.S. Open.

A winner three times internationally this year, South Africa's Els has found the going tough in the U.S. and will be keen this week to recapture some of the magic from eight years ago when he claimed his second U.S. Open title by one shot from Colin Montgomerie.

"This week's Booz Allen Classic has added interest for me, with the tournament returning to the Congressional Country Club, scene of my second U.S. Open victory in 1997," said the world number three on his website.

"It just doesn't seem like eight years ago. It's so fresh in my mind and obviously I have a lot of great memories from the week, especially the par-four 17th in the final round where I hit probably the best shot of my career to give myself a precious lead playing the par-three final hole.

"Since then they've added a couple of hundred yards to the overall length of the golf course but it's still going to be the same kind of test. I enjoyed it a lot back in '97 and I'm really looking forward to teeing it up there again."

After missing the cut at the Memorial last week, Singh will also be looking to get back on track ahead of the U.S. Open.

In nine events prior to the Memorial, the Fijian had a pair of wins, two second spots, two thirds and a fifth place but after a break Singh had problems shaking off the rust carding rounds of five-over 77 and two-over 74 to miss the cut by five strokes.

Rounding out the top 10 teeing it up at the Congressional are Phil Mickelson, U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen of South Africa, Spain's Sergio Garcia, Chris DiMarco, defending champion Adam Scott of Australia and Irishman Padraig Harrington.

World number two Tiger Woods and number 10 David Toms are not competing in Maryland.

Generally pleased with his third place finish and overall performance last week at the Memorial, Woods will spend this week fine-tuning his game for Pinehurst, saying he saw no benefit playing in the Booz Allen.

"I'm going home to practice," said Woods, who will be seeking to add a third U.S. Open title to the fourth Masters championship he won in April.

"It's apples and oranges compared to this U.S. Open. The Congressional is a U.S. Open site, but it's so different than this Open is going to play."

Twice U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, who won at the TPC at Avenel in 1995, returns to action at the Booz Allen after missing nearly a month following an emergency appendectomy in mid-May.


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