This Week in Golf – May 6th through May 9th

May 5, 2010

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PGA TOUR

THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida –

The PGA Tour returns to Florida this week for the event unofficially known as the fifth major, The Players Championship.

Henrik Stenson is back to defend his title against a field that includes nine other former Players champions. The Swede overcame a third-round 73 last year as he closed with a six-under 66 to cruise to a four-stroke win over Ian Poulter.


Henrik Stenson came from five strokes behind to win last year’s Players Championship.

Stenson, who won for the second time on the PGA Tour, came from five strokes behind to earn the win, matching the largest comeback in tournament history. He will be hard-pressed to repeat as no player has ever won this title in back-to-back years.

Third-round leader Alex Cejka, who was searching for his first PGA Tour win, stumbled to a seven-over 79 in the final round to tumble into a share of ninth place.

This year’s field took a hit Monday when world No. 3 Steve Stricker withdrew because of a shoulder injury. However, the rest of the top 10 in the world will be at the TPC Sawgrass this week, as will nine of the top 10 on the FedEx Cup points list and nine of the top 10 from the PGA Tour money list.

After skipping the 2008 Players, Tiger Woods will be back at Sawgrass for the second straight year. From 1999-2005, Woods had a stellar run at this event with a win, a second-place finish and six straight top-16s.

Since then, he has finished no better than tied for 22nd. Woods is one of 21 major champions competing this week.

Just two of the last six Players champions have been Americans and there are 52 international players in the field this week. Though four of the last six winners were non-Americans, only 10 foreign players have won in the tournament’s 36 years.

Golf Channel has six hours of coverage on both Thursday and Friday before NBC takes over with five hours of action for both of the final two rounds.

The PGA Tour starts a three-event Texas swing next week with the Texas Open, where Zach Johnson won last year.

EUROPEAN TOUR

BMW ITALIAN OPEN
Royal Park Golf & Country Club, Turin, Italy –

Argentina’s Daniel Vancsik returns to Royal Park this week to defend his title at the BMW Italian Open.

Last year, Vancsik won for the second time on the European Tour, carding a pair of 65s in the second and final rounds to cruise to a six-stroke win. Vancsik carded four rounds in the 60s for the week.

He will have to contend with a field that includes five winners from earlier this season as well as two of the top Danes — Anders Hansen and Soren Kjeldsen. They rank 55th and 56th in the world and are two of the highest ranked players competing this week.

Italian teenager Matteo Manassero is making his professional debut this week. The 2009 British Amateur champion will be the second-youngest European Tour member in history at 17 years and 17 days old.

Manassero will be nine days older than Seve Ballesteros was when he made his tour debut as a professional. Like Ballesteros, Manassero will make his pro debut at his country’s national open.

Francesco Molinari became the first Italian to win this event in 26 years when he titled in 2006. However, he is competing on the PGA Tour this week, while his brother, Eduardo, will headline the Italian contingent at Royal Park.

Golf Channel has coverage starting at 9:30 a.m. (et) Thursday and Friday, then at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The European Tour heads back to Spain next week for a new event, the Open Calla Millor Mallorca.


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