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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
English duo renew European race
Paul Casey (left) and David Howell
Casey (left) and Howell are vying for the European Order of Merit
Ryder Cup stars Paul Casey and David Howell step up the race to be crowned European number one when they play in this week's Dunhill Links Championship.

Casey leads Howell by 80,000 after overtaking the long-time leader with victory in the 1m World Match Play.

The pro-am links event, won last year by Colin Montgomerie, will be played over St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns in Scotland.

Each of the 168 pros is teamed up with an amateur partner.

Among the list of celebrities taking part are Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff, Kenny Dalglish, Kapil Dev, Ruud Gullit, Dennis Hopper, Kyle MacLachlan, Matthew Pinsent, Steve Redgrave, Michael Vaughan and Gianluca Vialli.

The pro-am format is great for the first three days, but it isn't what you really want on the Sunday

Colin Montgomerie

The teams play one round at each of the courses over the first three days before the top 60 professionals and those tied for 60th place, together with the top 20 teams, compete in the final round at St Andrews on Sunday.

Montgomerie, paired with actor Michael Douglas 12 months ago, edged out fellow Briton Kenneth Ferrie by one stroke in the professional event on his way to an eighth European title.

But the 43-year-old Scot, again paired with Douglas, has questioned whether the format is right.

"The pro-am format is great for the first three days, but it isn't what you really want on the Sunday," Montgomerie told the Daily Telegraph.

"If Michael were doing an important job on stage, I for one wouldn't want to be up there with him.

Bill Murray
Comedian Bill Murray goes through his paces at St Andrews

"I don't think he actually holed out at all on the back nine last year. He spent the whole afternoon trying to keep out of the way.''

Ryder Cup stars Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Paul McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood are also competing for the 427,000 first prize, as are captain Ian Woosnam and his assistants Sandy Lyle and Peter Baker.

The overseas challenge will be spearheaded by Ernie Els and Retief Goosen of South Africa and Fiji's Vijay Singh.

Howell closed the gap again on fellow Englishman Casey after a tie for 13th place in the WGC event at The Grove on Sunday. Casey was 56th.

Swedish pair Karlsson and Stenson are third and fourth on the money list with Montgomerie in seventh, about 560,000 adrift with three events left.

  • Casey received a personal message from K Club course designer Arnold Palmer after firing a hole-in-one at the 14th during the Ryder Cup.

    American legend Palmer, his country's record points-scorer in the event, wrote the message on a giant image of the hole, which was presented to Casey at St Andrews.

    It read: "Paul, what a time to play the ultimate shot! Well done!"

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