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Top field lined up for BMW Championship

South Africans Retief Goosen and Ernie Els, ranked third and sixth in the world, lead a glittering array of talent in this week's BMW Championship at Wentworth.

The European Tour's flagship event, which offers a record purse of 4.25 million euros ($5.43 million), also features world number nine Adam Scott of Australia, Briton Luke Donald (10) and Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal (11), who won the tournament in 1994.

Briton Colin Montgomerie, seeking a record-equalling fourth title in the competition formerly known as the PGA Championship, holder Angel Cabrera and U.S. Open winner Michael Campbell are other candidates for the first prize of 708,000 euros at a modified West Course.

Under the guidance of Els, who has won a record six World Match Play crowns at the famous Surrey estate he calls home, the course has been remodelled to meet the demands of the modern-day golfer.

Argentine Cabrera is bidding to emulate Montgomerie and Nick Faldo by becoming only the third player to retain the trophy.

Six-times major winner Faldo triumphed in 1980 and 1981 while Montgomerie became the first player to win the event in three successive years between 1998 and 2000.

"Last year's victory and my win in the Benson and Hedges International Open at the Belfry in 2002 remain the highlights of my career," the 36-year-old Cabrera told the tour's official website.

"But I would love to join Nick and Monty and successfully defend my title at Wentworth. It is a beautiful golf course, one of my favourites in the world."

One player the big-hitting Argentine will have to keep a close eye on is European order of merit leader David Howell.

"Having won the BMW International Open in Munich in August, I would love to add the BMW Championship to my collection," said Briton Howell.

"It would be great to step up on my fourth-place finish at Wentworth last year."

Among the other players taking part are newly-crowned Irish Open champion Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and former major winners Ben Curtis, Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie.

It will also be a landmark week for European Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam.

The 48-year-old Briton, who won the event in 1988 and 1997, will be making his 500th tour appearance.

The tournament starts on Thursday.



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