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England team forming for World Cup defence

World number 14 Luke Donald is expected to name fellow Ryder Cup player David Howell as his partner for England's World Cup title defence in November.

Although Donald won last year's team competition in Spain with Paul Casey, Howell holds a higher world ranking and is tipped to get the nod when Donald's choice is made public on Tuesday.

Howell is the world number 19 while Casey, who has struggled for form for much of this year, has dropped to 62nd.

Under World Cup rules, the leading 18 available players of different nationalities in the world rankings on September 19 automatically qualify their countries for this year's event, to be held in Portugal from November 17 to 20.

Each of those players can select their partners, as long as they are also ranked in the world's top 100. Should that not be possible, the next highest-ranked golfer will be offered the spot.

Donald, at number 14, was England's leading player in the official world rankings on Monday. Howell, at 19, was second with Lee Westwood, at 36, third and Ian Poulter, at 51, fourth. Casey, at 62, is England's number five.

Last year, Casey was England's number one and selected second-ranked Donald as his partner for the WGC-World Cup of Golf at the Real Club in Seville, Spain.

Casey and Donald earned England a one-shot victory over home favourites Spain after firing an eight-under-par 64 in the last-day foursomes.

The 2005 WGC-World Cup will be held at Victoria Clube de Golfe in Vilamoura, Portugal.


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