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Preview: Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles


Bjorn to defend Gleneagles title in Scotland

GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) Defending champion Thomas Bjorn goes into the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on Thursday with one eye on the Ryder Cup.

Bjorn is one of the European Ryder Cup vice captains, and the Walker Championship ends the race for the 10 automatic spots on the team. Bjorn has been busy tracking the progress of the team, which will play next month against the United States at Medinah in Illinois.

So far, Bjorn likes what he's seen, particularly the back-to-back success of winners Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. Jose Maria Olazabal will add two captain's picks for the Ryder Cup matches.

``It has been a couple of important weeks,'' Bjorn said. ``When they play the way they have done, it leaves a little bit less room for our guys. So Kiawah (McIllroy's wins) was very important, and Sergio's win last week was also very important.

``It just gives a boost to the whole European team. Five weeks away is the perfect timing for all of them to be right on top of their game.''

McIlroy not only won his second Major championship but stormed past Tiger Woods and Luke Donald to take back the top ranking by winning the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C.

Garcia ended a four-year PGA Tour winless drought last Monday in capturing the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina.

Bjorn will be joined as vice captain by former British Open winner Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland and Ireland's Paul McGinley. All three served in the same capacity in 2010 under Colin Montgomerie.

Olazabal will choose his fourth vice captain later this week and make his two wild-card picks on Monday.

One of those could be big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, who is ranked 12th and two places outside of automatic qualifying for the Ryder Cup side.

However, the 29-year old Colsaerts could guarantee his place on the team by finishing first or second at Gleneagles. If successful, Colsaerts will be the only rookie among the 10 automatic qualifiers.

``I think the best way to go about it, is to be very humble,'' Colsaerts said. ``Ollie (Olazabal) has been around so many of them that he's got all the scenarios covered regardless of what I do, what some of the other guys do. I still have a way to get myself in, but I'd like to think that I'm a pretty good position to get a pick.''

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Johnnie Walker field
Felipe AguilarFredrik Andersson HedMatthew Baldwin
Rich BeemWarren BennettThomas Bjorn
Richard BlandKnut BorsheimMarcus Both
Gregory BourdyGary BoydMarkus Brier
James ByrneRafael Cabrera-BelloMichael Campbell
Jorge CampilloAlejandro CanizaresEmanuele Canonica
S.S.P. ChowrasiaDarren ClarkeRobert Coles
Federico ColomboNicolas ColsaertsRhys Davies
Carlos Del MoralDaniel DenisonRobert-Jan Derksen
Robert DinwiddieDavid DixonChris Doak
Stephen DoddAndrew DodtBradley Dredge
David DrysdaleEdouard DuboisVictor Dubuisson
Simon DysonJohan EdforsJamie Elson
Niclas FasthKenneth FerrieDarren Fichardt
Richard FinchOliver FisherRoss Fisher
Tommy FleetwoodOscar FlorenGrant Forrest
Mark FosterGraham FoxMarcus Fraser
Dylan FritteliLorenzo GagliPetr Gal
Stephen GallacherChris GaneIgnacio Garrido
Daniel GauntJean-Baptiste GonnetRicardo Gonzalez
Estanislao GoyaStephen GrayRichard Green
Emiliano GrilloPeter GustafssonAlex Haindl
Anders HansenGregory HavretBenjamin Hebert
Peter HedblomScott HendersonMichael Hoey
Keith HorneDavid HowellGreig Hutcheon
Sam HutsbyMikko IlonenRaphael Jacquelin
Scott JamiesonMiguel Angel JimenezAndrew Johnston
Michael JonzonRoope KakkoShiv Kapur
Rikard KarlbergLloyd KennedySoren Kjeldsen
Jbe' KrugerMaarten LafeberJoakim Lagergren
Jose Manuel LaraPablo LarrazabalPaul Lawrie
Peter LawrieCraig LeeTom Lewis
Sam LittleAlan LockhartMikael Lundberg
David LynnAndrew MarshallPablo Martin
Gareth MaybinJack McDonaldRichard McEvoy
Paul McGinleyDamien McGranePaul McKechnie
Shaun MicheelFrancesco MolinariColin Montgomerie
James MorrisonJamie MoulGeorge Murray
Matthew NixonAlexander NorenThomas Norret
Steven O'HaraJose Maria OlazabalThorbjorn Olesen
Gary OrrAdrian OtaeguiDavid Patrick
Andrea PavanScott PinckneyPhillip Price
Julien QuesneRichie RamsayTaco Remkes
Bernd RitthammerVictor RiuRobert Rock
Brett RumfordLloyd SaltmanRicardo Santos
Reinier SaxtonMarcel SiemJoel Sjoholm
Tim SluiterMatthew SouthgateGraeme Storm
Scott StrangeAndy SullivanSimon Thornton
Miles TunnicliffTjaart Van der WaltPaul Waring
Marc WarrenRomain WattelSteve Webster
Peter WhitefordOliver WilsonChris Wood
Gareth WrightFabrizio ZanottiMatthew Zions
Strength of field
World RankPlayersNo. in Field
TOP 10None0
TOP 25None0
TOP 50Paul Lawrie (27),Francesco Molinari (29),Nicolas Colsaerts (36),Thomas Bjorn (44),David Lynn (45),Thorbjorn Olesen (50)6
TOP 100Alexander Noren (51),Rafael Cabrera-Bello (53),Miguel Angel Jimenez (54),Richie Ramsay (55),Marcus Fraser (58),Marcel Siem (62),Anders Hansen (63),Simon Dyson (69),Pablo Larrazabal (78),Fredrik Andersson Hed (88),Stephen Gallacher (95),Robert Rock (96),Ross Fisher (99)13