World Number One Tiger Woods will make his first appearance on European soil this season when he aims for a title hat-trick in the Deutsche Bank – SAP Open TPC of Europe at the Gut Kaden course in Hamburg.
The 27 year old American has won the event in the last two years at St Leon-Rot in Heidelberg but has never tasted victory at Gut Kaden, finishing tied third in 2000, four shots behind winner Lee Westwood. Certainly Woods is in good form, having won twice on the US PGA Tour this season along with the World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California at the beginning of March.
But, although he will start as favourite, Woods faces a tough task from a stellar field of European Tour members, including last week’s Benson and Hedges International Open winner Paul Casey, all vying for a share of the €2,700,000 prize fund. Retief Goosen, winner of the Volvo Order of Merit in 2001 and 2002 and currently World Number Ten, is looking for his first victory since the birth of his first child Leo earlier this year.
Colin Montgomerie, who defied a bad back to force a play-off with Woods 12 months ago, returns to Germany for another attempt at dethroning the World Number One while Bernhard Langer's fond memories of Gut Kaden will make him a formidable competitor in his native country. Langer has won twice at the Hamburg venue and was tied fourth behind Lee Westwood in 1998. Westwood is also in the field seeking his third win at Gut Kaden to add to his 1998 and 2000 victories.
Another player currently in the Top Ten on the Official World Golf Ranking is Padraig Harrington and the Irishman will be keen to improve on his best finish in the event, tied fifth in 2001, and notch his second victory of The 2003 European Tour International Schedule, following his win in the BMW Asian Open.
But all eyes will be on Woods as he once again attempts to set a first in the golfing record books. Only four players have won a European Tour event three times in succession, Nick Faldo (Irish Open 1991-1993), Montgomerie (Volvo PGA Championship 1998-2000), Ian Woosnam (Monte Carlo Open 1990-1992) and Woods himself (WGC – NEC Invitational 1999-2001).
Now the American will attempt to become the first player to notch a title hat-trick in two different events.