Golf: Couples eyes richest prize

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The Independent Online
NICK FALDO and Ian Woosnam are among a prestigious, 28-strong field who tee off today in the sport's richest event, the Johnnie Walker World Championship, at Jamaica's Tryall course in Montego Bay. The prize-money is dollars 2.7m ( pounds 1.7m) and in the chase for it will be 14 of the top 20 in the world rankings.

Fred Couples, the defending champion, is part of the line-up, but when he goes out to make his defence today, he will find a course very different to the one on which he became the competition's inaugural winner last year. The course was criticised then for not presenting an adequately tough challenge and, as a result, it has been elongated by more than 70 yards and four holes have been drastically changed.

The toughest element of last year's tournament was the wind. Tryall is a links course, so there is a possibility of this again providing an obstacle, though probably not the 45mph obstacle which blew up on the Friday last year. 'You feel like you've gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson out there,' Greg Norman had said afterwards.

The major changes this year are to the opening hole, formerly a short par-three and now a demanding 470-yard par-four, and to the 15th, a brand new 187-yard par-three on the beach. The 16th, once a simple par-four of 340 yards, is now 70 yards longer with a new tee position which gives the hole a severe dogleg requiring a tee shot of 270 yards to see the green. Last year's extremely long rough, which began right at the edge of the fairways, has been modified.

Also in the field are the US Open champion Tom Kite, Norman, Seve Ballesteros, Raymond Floyd and Bernhard Langer.