Goosen boost for Beijing Classic

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2005, 12:00am

Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen, ranked fifth in the world, has confirmed his entry for the Johnnie Walker Classic alongside three of golf's young guns, world number nine Adam Scott of Australia, Englishman Luke Donald and his Ryder Cup teammate Paul Casey.

The GBP1.25 million ($18.7 million) Johnnie Walker Classic is the Asia Pacific's premier golf event and will be staged on the mainland for the first time in its 14-year history, at the Pine Valley Golf Resort and Country Club in Beijing from April 21-24.

The quartet join a field that now features four of the world's top nine players and is already shaping up to be the strongest ever played in China. It includes Ernie Els, the world number three; Spain's Sergio Garcia, currently ranked sixth; Miguel Angel Jimenez, the defending champion; six time major winner, with two victories in the Johnnie Walker Classic, Nick Faldo; and Korean Choi Kyung-ju, ranked 29th in the world.

Trailblazer Zhang Lianwei, a multiple winner on the Asian Tour, will lead the local challenge.

South Africa's Goosen has achieved 24 tournament victories worldwide including the 2001 and 2004 US Open titles. Goosen will be playing in his sixth Classic, having won the event in Perth, Western Australia, in 2002.

Scott, 24, has enjoyed a quick rise after turning pro in 2000, ending his first year as a rookie in 13th spot on the European Money List. Playing more regularly these days on the US PGA Tour, Scott has won four events, including the 2004 Players Championship, heralded by some as the 'fifth major' and recently won the Nissan Open in Los Angeles.

Donald will be making his debut in the event. The 27-year-old turned pro just four years ago after an outstanding amateur career in which he represented Great Britain and Ireland in two Walker Cup matches and enjoyed multiple wins in the US.

In the short time he has been a pro, he has won three times, once in the US and the Scandinavian Masters and Omega European Masters in Europe.

Donald, ranked 18th in the world, played a key role in Europe's victory in the 2004 Ryder Cup and later went on to lift the WGC-World Cup in Spain with Casey. England's Casey is also 27, turning pro in 2000. A member of the victorious 1999 Walker Team, he became one of only three players in 77 years to record four victories without a defeat. In his very first year as a pro, he won the Gleneagles Scottish PGA Championship. Since then, he has won two further European Tour events and last year registered eight top-10 finishes. Casey is ranked 43rd in the world.