Big-Time Field Descends on St Andrews

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2006 Dunhill Links Championship Following the HSBC Match Play Championships, a victory at the 36th Ryder Cup matches and last week's WGC - American Express Championship, the European Tour wraps up quite a stretch of big-time golf with this week's Dunhill Links Championship.
 
And befitting the star-studded field that has been assembled, the event is hosted at the home of golf - the Old Course at St. Andrews. The tournament is actually played out on three different courses on the first three days - St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarn.
 
A pro-am format will be in play Thursday, Friday and Saturday, players rotating between the three venues before the top 60 and ties, together with the top 20 pro-am teams, advancing to the final round at the Old Course.
 
Ten of the 12 members of the victorious European Ryder Cup team will be on hand including defending champion Colin Montgomerie, as well as team captain Ian Woosnam. Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington are like Monty, past winners of this event.
 
Joining them will be three other top-10 world ranked players in Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh.
 
With $803,500 going to the winner and the season-ending Volvo Masters just three weeks away, players are jockeying for position as they head down the backstretch. The top 60 players on the money list qualify for the Volvo Masters.
 
The biggest battle, however, is being waged between Paul Casey and David Howell, who currently sit 1-2 on the Order of Merit list. Only $152,785 seperate the two after Casey overtook Howell with his big win at the HSBC Match Play event. The two Englishman ironically won the first two events of the European season.
 
Other players within shouting distance for the Order of Merit title include the Swedish pair of Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson, Harrington, Els, eight-time title holder Montgomerie, and Ian Poulter.
 
Poulter is quietly putting together a solid year especially after notching his first win of the season at the Open de Madrid three weeks ago. He followed up that win with a solid runner-up finish to Tiger Woods at last week's WGC - American Express Championship.
 
Last year, Monty birdied the final hole to win by one stroke. It was the 43-year-old Scot's first victory in Scotland since the Loch Lomond Invitational, now the Scottish Open, in 1999.
 
The Golf Channel will air all four rounds live beginning Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
 
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