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Hanoi, Nov 16: Ryder Cup stars David Howell of England and Ireland's Paul McGinley will headline the inaugural Hana Bank Vietnam Masters at the Hanoi Phoenix Golf Resort next week.

    Howell, who has four professional wins under his belt, will always be remembered for his famous victory at the HSBC Champions in China in 2005 where he held off world number one Tiger Woods in the final round.

     The 32-year old Englishman also played a vital role in Europe's second successive 18  - 9  victory over the USA at The 2006 Ryder Cup and was the first English winner since Nick Faldo to win the prestigious BMW Championship in Wentworth last year.

     However, Howell's campaign in 2007 has been blighted by injuries but he will looking to sparkle in the US$500,000 Asian Tour event next week and rediscover the form that led him to third place on the European Tour Order of Merit in 2006 .

     "I'm looking forward to it and it's a good way to end the year.  I've heard it's a nice place and hope to continue to improve my game, and I may even have a chance to try and win it.

     I'm looking forward to Vietnam and I hope to end the year on a good note there. However, I will have to take it a step in the right direction. But a strong result in Vietnam would be really good for me" said Howell.

     McGinley, a fellow Ryder Cup team mate and an experienced campaigner, has played in three successive winning Ryder Cup teams and he will be hoping to add another title to his eight professional victories to date.

     The smiling Irishman will always be remembered in Ryder Cup folklore as he holed the winning putt for Europe in the 2002 edition.

     "Vietnam is one of the few countries that I haven't visited yet. I know quite a lot about the history of the country and that adds to the excitement of me playing there," said McGinley.

     Spearheading the Asian Tour challenge at the Hana Bank Vietnam Masters will be Thai stalwart Thaworn Wiratchant, who will be looking forward to another happy outing in Vietnam.

     Thaworn, who holds the most victories on the Asian Tour with nine titles, was the last Asian Tour player to claim a title in Vietnam two years ago. 

     As the third from last ranking event of the 2007 season, the Hana Bank Vietnam Masters will shape the race for the prestigious Asian Tour's UBS Order of Merit.

     Other top Asian Tour stars who will be vying to improve on their standings before the season ends include Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei, Philippine's Artemio Murakami and Singapore's Mardan Mamat, all winners in the region.

     Lin won the Brunei Open in September while Murakami producing a stunning victory at the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia in August.

     Organisers also announced that Americans Rich Beem and Tom Pernice Jr will not be competing in the event due to unforeseen circumstances.


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