It will be strange to see Colin Montgomerie without longtime caddie Alistair McLean in tow tomorrow(Thursday) at the Benson and Hedges International at The Belfry.
The pair have split after many years, amicably, though Monty apparently feels he needs a change of temperament at his side as he tries to re-discover his form.
It could be a good omen, not only for Monty but for stand-in Jason Henning, normally bagman for resting Robert Karlsson, that two his most recent wins, the 2000 French Open and Volvo PGA the same year, came with first Peter Coleman (regular for Bernhard Langer) and Andy Prodger (Phillip Price) on his bag for the week.
Tournament favourite is Retief Goosen, even though he only finished tied seventh last year, when Henrik Stenson was the shock winner and missed the cut with rounds of 81 and 73 in 2000 when Jose Maria Olazabal claimed the title.
But his strongest challenge could come this time from Padraig Harrington, runaway leader in 2000 when he discovered he had failed to sign his card in the first round. He was a disappointing 19th last time but has improved tremendously in recent weeks.
Angel Cabrera is also a hot prospect, 9th and 2nd in his last two visits, while Paul McGinley’s runner-up spot last time following an opening round 66 will bring back good memories.
Justin Rose will be buoyed by his victory in Japan on Sunday, when he scored an emphatic five stroke triumphed in the Crowns event and two other former amateur stars Adam Scott and Paul Casey could make an impression.
However the biggest draw could be the combination of Cabrera, Phillip Price and John Daly, recovered from a mild stroke after a bad reaction to some medication.
With Darren Clarke, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam also in the field, the prospects for some fireworks this week look favourable.