Friday, 19 March 2010

Defending champion Tiger Woods and 11 members of Europe’s record-breaking Ryder Cup Team will lead a select field of global golfing superstars to the $7,500,000 WGC – American Express Championship at The Grove in Hertfordshire, England.

For Woods, the trip around the M25 to The Grove represents the final leg of his three week spell in Great Britain and Ireland and after a chastening fortnight to date, the World Number One will be intent on securing his fifth victory in the event come Sunday.

The WGC – American Express Championship also marks an immediate return to action for almost all of Ian Woosnam’s Ryder Cup heroes from The K Club and for Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie and Henrik Stenson, in particular, the week holds a special resonance.

The European Tour trio finished two shots behind Woods at Harding Park in 2005 to complete their best ever showing in a WGC event.

Joining them from the European Team which won The Ryder Cup for a record third consecutive time on Sunday, by a record equaling margin of 18½ points to 9 ½, are Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, David Howell, Robert Karlsson, José Maria Olazábal and Lee Westwood.

Only Paul McGinley misses out, due to his position just outside of the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking and the top 20 of The European Tour Order of Merit.

All 11 are assured a massive welcome from the thousands of spectators who will flock to The Grove, eager to watch the first European Tour event to be held at the luxurious venue beside junction 19 of the M25.

However, all eyes will also be on Woods as the world watches to see how the best player on the planet responds following two disappointing weeks by his own high standards.

The 12-time Major Champion crashed out in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship won by Casey at Wentworth Club and was then part of the USA Team so emphatically beaten by Europe at The K Club.

Woods won two points out of a possible four in his Ryder Cup matches and was not happy with his performance. “Europe got 18 and a half points, and I contributed two,” was how he summed it up.

While Woods’s Ryder Cup record – ten points from 24 and four overall defeats in five – continues to be a point of much conjecture, his record in WGC events is simply outstanding.

The World Number One has amassed 12 WGC titles since the series was created in 1999 and has won the American Express Championship four times (1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005).

Clarke is the most accomplished World Golf Championships player other than Woods, having won the 2000 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the 2003 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, while Casey and Donald tasted success when they teamed up for England to win the 2004 WGC-World Cup.

Casey also finished third at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August while Howell finished tied fifth at this year’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship that included a third-round victory against World Number Two Phil Mickelson.

Garcia, meanwhile, has played in six WGC-American Express Championships and has finished outside the top ten only once.

The field will also feature 11 members of the United States Ryder Cup Team - Chad Campbell, Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk, JJ Henry, Chris DiMarco, Zach Johnson, David Toms, Scott Verplank, Brett Wetterich, Woods and Captain Tom Lehman - plus Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Adam Scott and Vijay Singh.

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