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Els Looking to Stay Hot in Title Defense

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Ernie Els headlines again this week on his third continent in as many weeks as he defends the title he won last year at the Heineken Classic in Australia.
 
If not for a two-shot swing on the 72nd hole of last week's Caltex Masters in Singapore, Els would be gunning for an amazing fourth straight title, after his back-to-back season-opening victories on the PGA Tour.
 
Moving past Phil Mickelson and into the world's No. 2 ranked position, and with Tiger Woods still on the mend following knee surgery, Els clearly is the hottest player on the planet.
 
A successful title defense this week at the Royal Melbourne in Black Rock, Victoria and Els would be on top of both the European and PGA Tour's money lists, something people laughed at Sergio Garcia for thinking was possible.
 
Joining Els down under are Australia's favorite son Greg Norman, six-time major champion Nick Faldo, 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie and the event's 1998 champ, Thomas Bjorn.
 
American John Daly was scheduled to play but has withdrawn his name from the field.
 
Els won last year's event in wire-to-wire fashion after an opening-round 64, eventually winning by five strokes over Peter O'Malley, Peter Fowler and David Howell.