World Cup spots on offer in Malaysia and Aruba

LOS ANGELES, Sep 20 (Reuters) Ten World Cup spots and a chance to shine in China will be up for grabs in qualifying tournaments taking place in Asia and Latin America next week.

Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng head a field of 21 countries hoping to qualify at the Fortis International Challenge in Kuala Lumpur from Sept 27-30.

The South American qualifying tournament, the Nations Cup, is scheduled to take place at the Tierra del Sol Golf Club in Aruba over the same four-day stretch.

Five teams will advance from each of the qualifiers to join the 18 seeded countries at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, China for the Nov. 22-25 World Cup.

Among the favourites at Mission Hills will be South Africans Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman, Spanish duo Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez and England's Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.

The 18 seeded teams were decided by the highest available player in the world rankings who then selected his own partner.

Many of golf's biggest names, including world number one Tiger Woods, second-ranked Phil Mickelson and twice US Open champion Ernie Els, have declined to take part.

The United States, World Cup champions a record 23 times, will be represented by 25th-ranked Arron Oberholser and his good friend Sean O'Hair.

Four higher-ranked Americans opted not to play at the World Cup but Oberholser jumped at the opportunity.

''Are you kidding me?'' he told reporters last week. ''I got the call and I was half in shock. I wouldn't pass up something like this.'' Four-times winners Australia will be represented by left-hander Nick O'Hern and a player yet to be determined after Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddeley, Richard Green and Stuart Appleby turned down the chance to play.

This year's World Cup, being held for the 53rd time, clashes with the Australian Masters that takes place in Melbourne.

Germany's Bernhard Langer and Marcel Siem will defend the crown they claimed last year in a playoff with Scotland.

Reuters BJR DB1021

Story first published: Thursday, September 20, 2007, 11:12 [IST]
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