Els Goosen Head Strong Field in Germany


04 Deutsche Bank-SAP OpenOne of the best starting fields of the European Tour's 2004 campaign will descend upon the Golf Club St. Leon in Heidelberg, Germany, for the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open TPC of Europe.
Led by a pair of South Africans in world No. 3 Ernie Els and his compatriot Retief Goosen, the event is one of the more lucrative of the season and kicks of the tour's road to the Open Championship in July.
Along with Els and Goosen, others vying for the record purse of $3.82 million will be a slew of 20-somethings coming to the forefront on not only the European Tour but also the PGA Tour.
Chief among them is Australia's Adam Scott, who earlier in the year captured the PGA Tour's 'fifth major' by winning the Players Championship in dramatic fashion. His 10-foot bogey putt at the 72nd hole gave him the biggest victory of his young career and has since vaulted him to No. 13 in the world.
Not far behind are a trio of Englishmen in Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey, who between them have already racked up 10 career European Tour titles.
Poulter, who leads the group with five victories, is not only trying to win for the sixth time but is also trying extend his streak to five consecutive years in which he has been in a European Tour winner's circle.
Casey, who is coming off a sixth place finish at the Masters, is, at 26th, the highest ranked Englishman.
Not to be lost in the shuffle are Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke and the event's defending champion Padraig Harrington.
Clarke, who has garnered as much attention for his dramatic weight loss as for his quality play, has already amassed three top-5 finishes in just five European Tour starts. On the strength of his third-place showing at the WGC - Accenture Match Play in late February, Clarke currently sits in the No. 3 spot on the tour's Order of Merit list.
Harrington, ranked 8th in the world, held off a hard-charging Thomas Bjorn in last year's epic duel to claim the top prize and his second win of 2003. Bjorn, who fired a final-round 63 to force the playoff, could not, however, make par on the first hole of sudden-death to extend the match.
Despite such a strong field, the tournament is unfortunately being played not only without the world's No. 1 player in Tiger Woods, but also without Germany's own and Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer.
Citing personal reasons, Woods pulled out of the event back in February even though he had been a regular at the event for the past five seasons, three of the times in which he came home the champion.
Langer, who has won 11 times on German soil in his career, had been hoping to attempt title number 12, but a wrist injury ruled him out.
I am very disappointed that I cannot play in the Deutsche Bank ' SAP Open, said Langer. It would have been my tenth consecutive start in the Tournament Players Championship of Europe in Germany.'
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Deutsche Bank-SAP Open