Golf / The Open Championship: Four to follow round Royal St George's

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The Independent Online
BERNHARD LANGER

World No 2

Age 36

THE German puts the premium here on precise iron shots and no one hits them more precisely. Langer has won at least once every year for the past 14 years and slipped into the Masters' green jacket at Augusta in April. Won again in the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth but has since been suffering from a stiff neck.

Second in the Open here in 1981 and third in 1985, Langer is coached by Simon Holmes, who has just split from David Leadbetter following the latter's inauguration into IMG.

PAYNE STEWART

World No 13

Age 36

IS IN fine form although he has fallen into the habit of shaking the winner's hand. Was second in the Memorial Tournament when Paul Azinger holed from a bunker at the last, second to Lee Janzen in the US Open and second to Jesper Parnevik in the Scottish Open last Saturday. Stewart was runner-up in the Open to Sandy Lyle in 1985 at Royal St George's and in 1990 to Nick Faldo at St Andrews. Has won two majors, the 1989 US PGA and 1991 US Open.

STEVE ELKINGTON

World No 17

Age 30

BORN Inverell, Australia and lives in Texas where his larder contains Vegemite and the Australian flag flies in the back yard. Best swing on the US Tour and one of the most technically sound players in the world.

Is the current Australian Open champion and won the TPC in Florida in 1991. Good record on long, tough courses and grew up in New South Wales on windswept, links-type courses.

Third in the Masters this year, 33rd in the US Open. Has had five top-10 finishes on the US Tour this season.

NICK FALDO

World No 1

Age 35

WON the Johnnie Walker Asian Classic and the Carrolls Irish Open this season (shot 65 in the final round at Mount Juliet). Has won seven tournaments since this time last year but has performed poorly in the majors this season (39th in the Masters, 72nd in the US Open). Has the English heritage to win over a course that resembles a nature trail. Says Royal St George's is firm to rock hard but last night the course was softened up by torrential rain.

(Photographs omitted)

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