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Order of Merit race heats up

Ryder Cup team mates Paul Casey and David Howell step up the race to become the top golfer in Europe when they compete at this week's Dunhill Links Championship.

Howell led the order of merit for almost 10 months before being overtaken two weeks ago when his fellow Briton won the World Match Play title at Wentworth.

A tie for 13th place in the WGC-American Express Championship at Watford on Sunday pushed Howell within 80,000 pounds ($149,900) of Casey at the top of the money list.

St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, three of the most celebrated courses in Scotland, will host the sixth staging of the Dunhill pro-am event.

Home favourite Colin Montgomerie is back to defend the title he won last year.

Montgomerie edged out fellow Briton Kenneth Ferrie by one stroke to finish top of the order of merit for the eighth time in his career.

Casey, Howell and Montgomerie are joined in a strong field by Ryder Cup colleagues Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Paul McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood.

Captain Ian Woosnam, who led Europe to an 18 1/2 - 9 1/2 victory over the United States at the K Club in Ireland, and his assistants Sandy Lyle and Peter Baker are also competing for the first prize of 427,000 pounds.

The overseas challenge will be spearheaded by Ernie Els and Retief Goosen of South Africa and Fiji's Vijay Singh.

Each of the 168 professionals joins up with an amateur partner for the week.

Among the list of celebrities taking part are Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff, Kenny Dalglish, Kapil Dev, Ruud Gullit, Dennis Hopper, Kyle MacLachlan, Matthew Pinsent, Steve Redgrave, Michael Vaughan and Gianluca Vialli.

The teams play one round at each of the courses over the first three days before the field is cut for the final round at St Andrews on Sunday.

October 4, 2006


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