Europes Best Emerge for the Benson and Hedges


The excitement builds and the big guns are coming out in droves this week in Europe for the Benson and Hedges International, as the tour visits the site of this years Ryder Cup at The De Vere Belfry.
Lee Westwood will be in attendance, as will Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn, Michael Campbell and a host of other top golfers. They will all be joined by European Team captain Sam Torrance in preparation for Septembers big event with the United States.
Likewise, U.S. captain Curtis Strange will be playing this week, and undoubtedly checking out the course upon which his American squad will defend their title.
Maybe the biggest name at this years edition of the Benson and Hedges, however, is defending champion Jose Maria Olazabal.
The newly-turned 35-year-old won in just his second tournament played on the tour this year at last weeks Novotel Perrier Open de France.
In recent times, the Spaniard has become a most visible component of a group of top European players who are choosing not to compete full-time on their home tour, taking their chances instead at the rich purses of the States. Others who are doing the same as Olazabal include the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jesper Parnevik and Jean Van de Velde.
Jimenez and Van de Velde are also scheduled to be at The Belfry this week.
As an example of the playing discrepancy between tours, while Olazabal has only played in two official European Tour events this year, he has entered nine on the PGA Tour.
While he and the others have been competing for more money, they have also been reducing their chances at making the Ryder Cup team, as the standings are based off official European Tour money.
Not to worry for Olazabal. With his win last week, he moves to eighth on the money list and sits in prime position for making the team.
Another good finish at this weeks event, which has a total purse of 1,000,000 pounds, would not only give him a feel for the course, but also go a long way for his chances of playing.