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This Week in Golf - May 3rd through May 6th

This Week in Golf - May 3rd through May 6th

This Week in Golf - May 3rd through May 6th
April 30th, 2007

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - PGA TOUR - WACHOVIA CHAMPIONSHIP, Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, North Carolina - Jim Furyk won the Wachovia Championship last year in the middle of an impressive season that saw him post 14 top-10 finishes and vault to No. 2 in the world rankings.

He backed into a playoff when Brett Wetterich three-putted for bogey at the 72nd hole, then won the playoff with a par when Wetterich bogeyed No. 18 again.

The year before, Furyk lost a playoff to Vijay Singh.

"I've seen enough of 18 for another year, I promise you that," Furyk said after last year's win. "I had to see it three times on Sunday last year and twice this time. So I've had enough."

The only man in front of Furyk in the world rankings, No. 1 Tiger Woods, is playing this week for the first time since he finished runner-up to Zach Johnson at the Masters.

Woods tied for 11th place in his last Wachovia Championship appearance in 2005, never breaking 70 in the four rounds. The year before, he tied for third place after shooting a 75 on Saturday.

Including Woods and Furyk, 18 of the top 20 golfers in the world rankings will be in the field this weekend -- a tough break for the middle-of-the-road players looking to collect a share of the $6.3 million purse.

Indeed, the four previous Wachovia Championships have produced three top- flight winners -- Furyk, Vijay Singh and David Toms -- and another, Joey Sindelar, who has posted wins in each of the last three decades.

The Golf Channel will broadcast the first two rounds, and CBS will have the weekend. Next week is the transplanted Players Championship, which was won by Stephen Ames last season two weeks prior to the Masters.


TELECOM ITALIA OPEN, Castello di Tolcinasco Golf & Country Club - How does it go? "Champagne wishes and caviar dreams."

Last year, Francesco Molinari shot a 65 in the final round to finish off a spectacular week of golf and pull away for a four-shot victory, becoming the first Italian in 26 years to win the Italia Open.

His final round began with a chip-in eagle on the first hole and ended with a birdie and champagne shower at the 18th green, a dream ending for the younger brother of 2005 U.S. Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari.

"It was fantastic last year because I don't think the crowd really expected an Italian golfer to win," the younger Molinari told the European Tour. "Because of that, they went crazy over the last few holes -- it was more like a football match."

With many of the world's top players competing in the Wachovia Championship, Molinari's quest for a title defense will be made easier -- although no player has successfully defended in the last 60 years.

The Golf Channel will have live coverage of all four rounds, beginning at 9:30 a.m. (et) on Thursday and Friday and at 8 a.m. on the weekend days. Next week is the Andalucian Open, where Niclas Fasth birdied the fourth sudden-death playoff hole last year to make up for a late-round collapse and beat John Bickerton.


SEMGROUP CHAMPIONSHIP, Cedar Ridge Country Club, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma - This week's event was previously known as the Williams Championship (2001-02) and the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic (2003-06).

Last October, Cristie Kerr shot a career-low and tournament-record 61 on Saturday, then held off Annika Sorenstam on Sunday to win by two shots for her third victory of the season.

Holding off Sorenstam at this event is usually no easy task. She won three times in six years, including back-to-back victories in 2004 and '05. But Sorenstam is still recovering from a serious back injury, and will not be in the field this week.

Neither will Silvia Cavalleri, the surprise winner of last week's Corona Championship, although plenty of the top players in the women's game will be on hand, including new No. 1 Lorena Ochoa.

ESPN2 will have coverage of all three rounds this weekend from 3-5 p.m. (et) each day. Next week is the Michelob Ultra Open, where Karrie Webb smashed the tournament scoring record last year on the way to a seven-shot win.


FEDEX KINKO'S CLASSIC, The Hills Country Club, Austin, Texas - Last year, Jay Haas shot a 65 on Sunday to beat Mark James and Tom Kite by two shots.

It was the second of back-to-back wins for Haas, who went on to win four times last season on the way to claiming the yearlong Charles Schwab Cup. Haas has a chance to go back-to-back again this season after winning the last Champions Tour event, the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, two weeks ago.

All four of the previous champions are scheduled to be in the field this week, with Jim Thorpe, Larry Nelson and Hale Irwin joining Haas in the chase for the $240,000 first-place check.

The Golf Channel will have coverage of all three rounds beginning at 6:30 p.m. (et) each day. The Champions Tour will have another week off before returning for the Regions Charity Classic, which was won by Brad Bryant last year.


FORT SMITH CLASSIC, Hardscrabble Country Club, Fort Smith, Arkansas - Darron Stiles won the Rheem Classic -- now the Fort Smith Classic -- last year and became just the 18th player to collect four titles on the Nationwide Tour.

Stiles is one of many past champions of this event who are currently playing on the PGA Tour, a list that includes Masters champion Zach Johnson (2003) and 2006 Augusta runner-up Tim Clark (2000).

The purse for this year's event was increased $20,000 to $495,000, with the winner's share up more than $3,000 to $89,000.

A very busy Golf Channel will have 2 1/2 hours of coverage on all four days beginning at 1:30 p.m. (et). Next week's event is the Chattanooga Classic, where another player currently grinding it out on the PGA Tour, Kyle Reifers, won last year.


FORD CULIACAN OPEN, Country Club of Culiacan, Culiacan, Mexico - This is the second of three consecutive events in Mexico for the Canadian Tour

Each of the first three winners of the 2007 -- Adam Bland, Wes Heffernan and Byron Smith -- will be in the field competing for the $125,000 purse.

Next week, the tour remains South of the Border for the Riviera Vallarta Nayarit Open in Nuevo Vallarta.

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