Darren Clarke, the first European Tour member to capture a World Golf Championship title, has confirmed his entry for the Compaq European Grand Prix at De Vere Slaley Hall from June 22-25.
Clarke, still buoyant after his superb victory over Tiger Woods when winning the Andersen Consulting Match Play by 4&3 at Carlsbad in February, will be joined in the North of England's premier tournament by stablemates Lee Westwood and last year's rookie winner David Park.
But, after his taming of the "Tiger", all eyes will be on the Ulsterman - whose unbelievable success earned him £625,625 and who insists he is determined to improve on his shared 11th overall position of a year ago.
On that occasion Welshman Park, a week after making his PGA European Tour debut with an unexpected second placing in the Moroccan Open, stunned his more experienced opponents by walking off with the £108,330 winner's purse.
Clarke, who flew into Newcastle airport with manager Chubby Chandler whose ISM group have over the years forged a close relationship with Compaq European Grand Prix organisers, is one of 28 past or present winners on the PGA Tour who have already confirmed entries for this year's meeting.
The 31-year-old double Ryder Cup player, now in the 11th year of his European Tour career, said: "I'm looking forward to returning to Slaley Hall and obviously I want to improve on my performance of last year.
"Certainly my early season form has been excellent and hopefully it will continue into the Compaq European Grand Prix. But in golf there is no such thing as an easy tournament and certainly the entry list to date is very impressive."
Fellow Ryder Cup representatives Andrew Coltart and Sam Torrance have also filed entries - while last year's runner-up David Carter, who lost the title on a hushed and tense 18th green last June to the more composed Park by a stroke, is also returning.
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