Thu, Nov 01, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Els, Westwood angered by event overlap

AFP , SINGAPORE

Ernie Els of South Africa tees off during a pro-am tournament in Singapore yesterday ahead of the Barclays Singapore Open golf tournament.

PHOTO: AP

Ernie Els and Lee Westwood have lashed out at the European Tour for "screwing up" their dates by scheduling the season-ending Volvo Masters to clash with the Barclays Singapore Open.

World No. 4 Els leads the European Order of Merit by 222,000 euros (US$320,000) from Ireland's Padraig Harrington but is unable to play at the Masters in Spain this week because he had already committed to the Asian Tour event in Singapore.

It means Harrington, Justin Rose of England and Swedes Niclas Fasth and Henrik Stenson can overhaul him and claim the Harry Vardon Trophy -- and there is nothing he can do about it.

"Well the decision was made last year. I signed a commitment with Barclays for three years," he said.

"I played my first one last year, this is my middle year and I've got a commitment next year, so don't blame me.

"I'd love to play the Volvo Masters but if they screw up the dates so be it. The European Tour knew that I'd got a three year contract with Barclays.

"I don't make the decision on when the tournament falls so it's one of those things. You can't please everybody and especially when two big events like these are being played on the same week. It just doesn't make any sense," Els said.

The dates for this year's Singapore Open were announced in May last year, some six months before the European Tour released their schedule for the season, giving them ample time to avoid a clash between two big tournaments.

Els said he brought the subject up at the World Match Play tournament at Wentworth earlier this month but has heard nothing since.

"I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago during Match Play and I haven't heard any response in explanation. Somebody missed the ball, it's as simple as that," he said. "We go where we need to go, and to play the Masters would be the wrong thing [for me] to do, I think."

Britain's Westwood, a two-time winner on the European Tour this year and 10th on the money list, accused the European Tour of "mismanagement."

"I committed to playing in Asia very early on this year and I committed to play in the Singapore Open a long time ago as well," he said.

"So the mismanagement on behalf of the European Tour as far as dates coinciding was very disappointing from my perspective. Hopefully that will be corrected in years to come," Westwood said.

Other golfers unable to play in Spain because of their commitment to Singapore include Argentina's Angel Cabrera, who is sixth on the European money list, and Ireland's Darren Clarke.

According to Singapore Open organizers, the tournament will next year be held from Nov. 6 to Nov. 9.

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