GOLF; Woods opens World Cup in a flurry of publicity

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TIGER WOODS may be the star billing at this year's World Cup of Golf, staring today at the Mines Resort here in Malaysia, But it seems the American is also being made to work hard away from the course for his reported pounds 680,000 appearance fee.

The world No 1 was staying patient in yesterday's rain-shortened pro- am at the Mines Resort course. Woods followed that up with a press conference before he and his American team-mate, Mark O'Meara, took part in the official opening ceremony at a nearby hotel.

After today's opening round, Woods will conduct a golf training clinic less than two hours before hosting "An evening with Tiger Woods", organised by the Malaysian tourist board.

Yesterday Woods seemed concerned less with his schedule and more with the sauna-like conditions. "It's just so hot out there," he said. "But I've won twice in Thailand and it's pretty much the same where we had a couple of days over 100 degrees plus 85 per cent humidity, so it was pretty warm."

One team determined to give the Americans a run for their money is the Scottish pairing of Dean Robertson and Colin Montgomerie, who will be hoping to put an unwanted record to rest. Scotland are the only home nation not to have won the tournament since the inaugural event was hosted by Montreal in 1953.

Robertson, the winner of the Italian Open in May, aims to do his part for the Scottish cause. "Colin and I want to win and with the way he's been playing this year it will be up to me to hold up my end of the show," he said, ahead of his Scotland debut.

Montgomerie, having just secured his position as European No 1 for a seventh successive season, will need no motivation to add yet another title to his collection. But he did bristle when reminded that the Scots have never won the tournament whereas Ireland, Wales and England all have. "Thank you for letting me know that," he said.

Last year's winners, England, have disbanded their team of Nick Faldo and David Carter in favour of this year's European Ryder Cup captain, Mark James, and Peter Baker, who is making his debut in the event.

There was bad news for Faldo yesterday when he learned that his caddie, Fanny Sunesson, is ending their 10-year association. The Swede has been linked with Sergio Garcia, who sacked his caddie, Jerry Higginbotham, earlier this week.

In Kuala Lumpur, Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington are the only players in the field to have tasted success in the tournament, having won for Ireland two years ago. The pair, together for the third time, are confident of wresting the trophy back into Irish hands.

n The Open champion Paul Lawrie is joining the US tour. Lawrie said he had taken the decision to "fulfil my potential and improve my world ranking".

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