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Luke Donald and Lee Westwood aim to be first Englishman to win Players


Americans will get the taste of a full English today as Luke Donald and Lee Westwood tee off together, both attempting to become the first Englishman to win the Players Championship in its 38-year history. Scotland's Sandy Lyle in 1987 remains the only Brit to win the US Tour's marquee championship.

Donald and Westwood, the world's No 2 and No 3, will be joined by the American Bill Haas in a group that, despite their world ranking, will draw more tumbleweed than crowd as the locals stalk the stellar pairings of Tiger Woods, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler or Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker.

"Two English guys in Sawgrass, I'm not sure that's going to produce a huge crowd or not," Donald said, diplomatically. "Bill Haas might bring more people than us," he added, to much laughter.

Westwood chose to skip this event last year and Donald expressed surprise at that decision. "I don't really know the politics behind why not," he said. "Perhaps it was a stand against, well if you're not going to play Wentworth [venue for the BMW PGA Championship, the equivalent event on the European Tour], we are not going to play the Players Championship. That's just me guessing."

Donald might get the answer he's not particularly looking for when they meet on the first tee. Westwood got to hear about Donald's comments and offered up his reason for not playing last year.

"I'm a bit puzzled why people are still asking why I wasn't here last year," he said. "I don't see everybody playing this year. I haven't heard that hardly mentioned. I watched it on TV and missed not being here." He added that he had committed to play in Indonesia and Korea.

At least they are both here this week, unlike the top American players who will be noticeable by their absence at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in two weeks. Donald challenged them to compete in it.

"It's considered our Players Championship. I would have thought that would incite some interest in some of the big Americans that would be exempt for it," Donald said. However, he added: "I can see there are reasons not to play it. You don't have to travel far [in the States] to play in a $6m event at a great course."