And so it is that the sweet swinging South African, Ernie Els, has another crown to defend at this week's Johnnie Walker Classic. For the Big Easy, this is the third time in just three starts in 2004 that he has been faced with this prospect.
Els will try to go two for three in his early stretch of defenses when he tees it up at the Alpine Golf & Sports Club in Bangkok, Thailand, for the 13th playing of the Johnnie Walker Classic.
PGA champion Shaun Micheel and British Open champ Ben Curtis will also be on hand in what is the strongest field on the European Tour so far this year. Six-time major winner Nick Faldo, the event's champion in 1992, and Scotland's Colin Montgomerie will also be on hand to try and wrestle the trophy from Els.
For Els, keeping the crown will undoubtably be tougher than winning it last year, when the South African simply blew away the competition. His 10-stroke margin of victory was the largest in the event's history. His winning total of 259 (-29) was the lowest winning score to par ever recorded on the European Tour. And his wire-to-wire victory tied him with world No. 1 Tiger Woods for most wins - two - in the tournament's 12 years.
Young guns Trevor Immelman, fresh off a succesful title defense at the South African Airways Open two weeks ago, Aussie Adam Scott and England's Justin Rose and Ian Poulter will round out the top-notch field competing for a record $1,625,549 in prize money.
The Johnnie Walker Classic will be tri-sanctioned once again by The European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian PGA Tour.