This Week in Golf – May 20th through May 23rd

May 19, 2010

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PGA TOUR
BYRON NELSON CHAMPIONSHIP
TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas, Irving, Texas -

Rory Sabbatini won last year’s Byron Nelson Championship for his first PGA Tour title since another Texas tournament, the 2007 Crowne Plaza Invitational.

Sabbatini’s fifth tour win came in record-setting fashion, as his 19-under-par 261 total bested the old tournament mark of 262 set by Loren Roberts and Steve Pate in 1999.

[Rory Sabbatini]
Rory Sabbatini set the Byron Nelson Championship scoring record with his 19-under-par 261 last year.
The outspoken South African improved to 4-4 when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead, carding a six-under 64 in the final round to beat England’s Brian Davis by two shots.

Sabbatini, who has fallen to No. 68 in the world rankings, will be back to defend his title against a field that includes only four players ranked in the top 25.

No. 17 Hunter Mahan is the highest-ranked player entered in the tournament. Also playing are No. 19 Y.E. Yang, No. 23 Sean O’Hair and No. 25 Kenny Perry.

Besides Sabbatini, other past Byron Nelson champions in the field include Scott Verplank, Brett Wetterich, Ted Purdy and Vijay Singh.

Phil Mickelson withdrew from last year’s Byron Nelson after his wife, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sabbatini wore a pink shirt for the final round and, along with many of the players, pinned a pink ribbon to his hat in support of the Mickelsons.

Golf Channel will have three hours of coverage of the first two rounds this week beginning at 3 p.m. (et) both days. CBS will broadcast in the same time slot on the weekend.

The tour wraps up its three-event Texas swing next week at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, where Steve Stricker won last year. Adam Scott kicked off the Lone Star State swing with a win at the Texas Open on Sunday.

EUROPEAN TOUR
BMW PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Wentworth Club, Surrey, England -

World No. 8 Paul Casey is the defending champion at this week’s BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event of the European Tour.

Last year, Casey carded four straight rounds of 69 or better on the way to beating Ross Fisher by a shot at 17-under 271. The victory — Casey’s 10th on the European Tour — vaulted the Englishman to No. 3 in the world rankings.

Ten of the top 25 players in the world rankings will be in the field this year, including No. 3 Lee Westwood, No. 6 Ian Poulter, No. 7 Ernie Els, No. 8 Casey, No. 9 Rory McIlroy, No. 11 Martin Kaymer, No. 13 Padraig Harrington, No. 18 Luke Donald, No. 21 Henrik Stenson and No. 24 Charl Schwartzel.

Three-time winner Colin Montgomerie and two-time champion Anders Hansen will lead a list of former tournament victors that also includes Miguel Angel Jimenez, David Howell, Scott Drummond and Ignacio Garrido.

In short, Wentworth Club is the best place in the world to see tournament golf this week.

Golf Channel will have coverage of all four rounds.

Next week the European Tour shifts to Spain for the Madrid Masters, where Ross McGowan won last year.

LPGA TOUR
SYBASE MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP
Hamilton Farm Golf Club, Gladstone, New Jersey -

This is a new event on the LPGA Tour schedule featuring a field of 64 players.

The match play bracket will be broken down into four groups named for the LPGA’s winningest players: Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright, Annika Sorenstam and Patty Berg.

The tournament’s No. 1 seed, top-ranked Jiyai Shin of South Korea, will lead the Whitworth Group. Second-ranked Ai Miyazato of Japan will headline the Wright Group, No. 3 Suzann Pettersen of Norway will lead the Sorenstam Group and No. 4 Yani Tseng of Taiwan will head the Berg Group.

The field will include most of the tour’s top stars, including Michelle Wie and last week’s playoff winner in Alabama, Se Ri Pak. Injured star Paula Creamer will miss another tournament.

Golf Channel will have coverage of all four rounds. Its broadcast will run from 1-3 p.m. (et) on Thursday and Friday, and from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Next week the tour is in Brazil for the HSBC Brasil Cup 2010, where Catriona Matthew won last year. The event features a 27-player field competing over 36 holes for $700,000 of unofficial prize money.

NATIONWIDE TOUR
REX HOSPITAL OPEN
TPC Wakefield Plantation, Raleigh, North Carolina -

At last year’s Rex Hospital Open, veteran pro Kevin Johnson beat Jeff Gallagher with a birdie on the first playoff hole to capture his fifth Nationwide Tour win.

Two weeks later, Johnson also won the Knoxville Open for his sixth title on the developmental circuit, tying him for first place all-time with Matt Gogel, Jason Gore and Sean Murphy.

The victories helped Johnson earn a PGA Tour card for this season. But he has not fared well in the big leagues in 2010, making just three cuts in 10 starts and earning only $51,458.

This week’s field includes all of the players ranked inside the top 10 on the money list, including money leader Kevin Chappell and last week’s winner in South Carolina, Justin Hicks.

Next week is the Melwood Prince George’s County Open, where Mathias Gronberg won last year.

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