Daly responds to Langer's plea

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The Independent Online

John Daly is in pursuit of a German double this week after heeding Bernhard Langer's appeal to overcome his dread of flying in the wake of the terrorist attacks in America.

Daly won the BMW International Open in Munich a month ago, but took a great deal of persuading to cross the Atlantic again for this week's German Masters in Cologne. The former Open champion was on the verge of pulling out of the £1.7m event until Langer, one of the co-promoters, convinced him to join him on a private jet.

"Nobody wants to travel in the States commercially," said Daly, who is not eager to fly at the best of times. "Pretty much every airline has dropped 20-30,000 employees and it's very difficult to travel.

"Bernhard and I travelled privately here with my wife and my agent and his agent. It's the only way to travel right now. I'm still scared to get on a commercial airliner."

Daly is the first high-profile American-based player to travel to play in a European Tour event since the terrorist attacks. Tiger Woods was quick to cancel his trip to play in the Lancôme Trophy in Paris two weeks ago and Daly admitted that many American players would take a long time to get back into the old routine – if they can. "For myself I wouldn't care if I never fly commercially again," the double major winner added.

Weather permitting – the Gut Larchenhof course is struggling to cope after recent heavy rain – the tournament will go ahead with Michael Campbell, of New Zealand, returning to defend his title. Campbell won by one shot last year from the Argentinian Jose Coceres when the event was reduced to 54 holes by rain on the final day, but faces a high-class field.

The Ulsterman Darren Clarke will be hoping to reduce the gap at the top of the Order of Merit between himself and the US Open champion, Retief Goosen, with whom he is paired in the opening two rounds.

Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington, joint third here last year, are also in the field alongside the European No 1 Lee Westwood, Jose Maria Olazabal, Ian Woosnam and Paul Lawrie.