Fowler, Love and Couples target Open spots

IRVING, Texas (Reuters) - Former world number one amateur Rickie Fowler will line up with ex-major winners Fred Couples and Davis Love III on Monday in a strong field of 78 at the U.S. leg of international qualifying for the British Open.

PGA Tour rookie Fowler and his fellow Americans will be competing over 36 holes at Gleneagles Country Club in Plano for eight spots on offer at the year's third major, to be held from July 15-18 at St. Andrews in Scotland.

The Gleneagles field includes 21 of the world's top 100 players, among them South African Rory Sabbatini, U.S. Ryder Cup player JB Holmes and India's Jeev Milkha Singh.

"This is my first attempt to qualify for the Open," Fowler, 21, said in a statement released by British Open organizers on Friday. "I have done well in qualifiers in the past, having qualified for the U.S. Open twice.

"Links golf is one of my favorites, if not my favorite, so I look forward to this opportunity," added the world number 54.

"It is a true test of golf," the 68th-ranked South African said. "Playing it is definitely a challenge and I look forward to it every year."

Tour veteran Love, whose only major victory came at the 1997 PGA Championship, has competed in the last 23 British Opens. He booked his place in the 2009 championship at Turnberry via the U.S. qualifier at Gleneagles.

Former U.S. Masters champion Couples has recorded nine top-10 finishes in 17 British Open appearances, including a tie for third when the tournament was last held at St. Andrews in 2005.

(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)