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Henrik Stenson tops strong British Masters field

World number 12 Henrik Stenson leads a formidable field of Europeans in this week's British Masters at the Belfry, the venue of four Ryder Cups including Europe's last home win in 2002.

The first European Tour event to be held in Britain this year will have an unmistakeable Ryder Cup feel.

Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, David Howell, Ian Poulter and Miguel Angel Jimenez, members of the victorious 2004 team at Oakland Hills, are among those chasing a first prize of 437,000 euros.

Ian Woosnam, who will captain the side when Europe defend the Ryder Cup against the U.S. at the K Club in Ireland in September, will also play at the Sutton Coldfield course near Birmingham.

The 48-year-old Welshman is a twice former British Masters champion. He won the tournament in 1983 and 1994.

Stenson, second behind order of merit leader Howell, is likely to figure prominently in Woosnam's team at the K Club.

Since winning the Challenge Tour in 2000, the 30-year-old has confirmed his status as one of golf's most exciting talents with three victories on the elite circuit.

It was at the Belfry where Stenson triumphed for the first time on the main tour, at the 2001 Benson and Hedges International.

Briton Casey is another former Belfry winner, having lifted the Benson and Hedges International trophy three years ago.

Twelve months ago an emotional Thomas Bjorn won for the first time in nearly three years when he held off Howell and Brian Davis in a playoff at the Forest of Arden.

Dane Bjorn, a member of the victorious 1997 and 2002 Ryder Cup teams, will be back to defend his title at the Brabazon course.

Michael Campbell returns to the British Masters as a major champion.

The New Zealander finished fourth at the Forest of Arden last year, one month before he scored a two-stroke victory over Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, North Carolina.

The tournament, which has a prize fund of 2.6 million euros, starts on Thursday.



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