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This Week in Golf - August 21st through August 24th

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - PGA TOUR - THE BARCLAYS, Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, New Jersey - The FedEx Cup Playoffs start this week at Ridgewood Country Club, former host of the 1935 Ryder Cup, the 1990 U.S. Senior Open and the 2001 Senior PGA Championship.

The top-144 players on the FedEx Cup points list are eligible, but we know the field will be at least two players short as Tiger Woods and Luke Donald are out for the year with injuries.

Six more players have decided to skip the event - Lee Westwood (No. 50 on the points list), Justin Rose (78), Alex Cejka (91), Jason Bohn (96), Bob Estes (124) and Roland Thatcher (140).

Of that group, Rose is playing on the European Tour this week, while Cejka joins Woods and Donald as missing the event due to injury.

In the first event of the 2007 FedEx playoffs, Steve Stricker fired four rounds in the 60s, including a two-under 69 in the final round, to walk off with a two- shot win over K.J. Choi.

Stricker claimed his fourth PGA Tour win, but his first since the 2001 WGC- Accenture Match Play Championship. Choi, who held the 36-hole lead, lost for the first time in five tries when owning at least a share of the 36-hole lead.

Ridgewood replaces Westchester Country Club as the host of this event. Westchester had been the venue for all 41 years, but the event will now rotate among Ridgewood, Liberty National Golf Club and other courses including Westchester, which will host again by the 2012 season.

With the playoffs in full swing, the field will be cut from 144 to 120 after this event. Last season, just two players moved into the top 120, Rich Beem and Doug La Belle II.

Beem tied for seventh at Westchester and jumped from 134 to No. 113 to advance, while La Belle needed a birdie on the final hole to move into a tie for 41st. That moved him from No. 121 to No. 120 on the points list, knocking Steve Allan out of the second round of the playoffs.

Once again this year Beem is making waves as the playoffs begin. He shared third at the Wyndham Championship and jumped from No. 166 on the FedEx points list to No. 114.

Also playing their way into the playoffs at the Wyndham were Martin Laird, J.J. Henry, Justin Bolli and Lee Janzen.

The Golf Channel will broadcast four hours of action each of the first two days, while CBS has three hours of play on Saturday and four hours over coverage on Sunday. Next week, the playoffs move to Massachusetts for the Deutsche Bank Championship, where Phil Mickelson won last year.


THE KLM OPEN, Kennemer Golf & Country Club, Zandvoort, Netherlands - With the run to the Ryder Cup well underway, players like Ross Fisher and Soren Hansen head to the KLM Open this week looking for a big finish.

Fisher, the defending champion this week, and Hansen are just two players in the field this week trying to secure a spot on the European Ryder Cup team.

Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose are on the team currently, but a top finish this week would secure their position on the Ryder Cup squad.

Those four will be joined at Kennemer Golf & Country Club by Michael Campbell, Paul Lawrie, Anders Hansen and Paul McGinley among others. A few of the top European players are still in the United States as the PGA Tour starts the FedEx Cup Playoffs this week.

Fisher birdied the final hole last year to best Joost Luiten by a single stroke. He closed with a three-under 67, while Luiten finished one back despite a closing 66.

There have been only four playoffs since 1972, but the 1989 playoff was a memorable one as Jose Maria Olazabal needed nine extra holes to beat Ronan Rafferty. That was the longest playoff in tour history.

The Golf Channel will have three hours of coverage all four days this week. The European Tour moves back to Scotland next week for the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, where Marc Warren won last year.


SAFEWAY CLASSIC, Columbia Edgewater Country Club, Portland, Oregon - After four weeks and three events in three different countries, the LPGA finally returns to the United States this week for the Safeway Classic.

Women's World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa ended a magical run of golf here last year. Coming off her first major title at the Women's British Open and a victory at the Canadian Women's Open, Ochoa cruised to a third straight win here.

The Mexican opened with rounds of 67-66 and only needed a one-under 71 on the last day to coast to a five-shot win over four players. The victory was her sixth of the season and she went on to claim two more titles in '07.

Annika Sorenstam set nearly all the records here in 2002. She trailed after the opening round, but carded a course-record 62 in the second round to set the 36-hole scoring record. She closed with a 68 to establish a new 54-hole scoring mark as well.

There is not as much pressure this week as there was last year as the United States Solheim Cup team was announced after this event last year. Now players can focus on getting a win and securing a spot in the top-80 on the money list to keep their playing privileges for next season.

ESPN2 has two hours of coverage each day next week. After a two-week break, the LPGA returns to action with the inaugural Bell Micro LPGA Classic in Mobile, Alabama.


BOEING CLASSIC, TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, Snoqualmie, Washington - The Champions Tour remains on the West Coast this week for the Boeing Classic where there was a seven-way playoff last year.

Denis Watson eagled the second extra hole to win the largest playoff in Champions Tour history. It was his second win of the season to go with his first major championship title at the Senior PGA Championship.

David Eger, the 2005 Boeing champion, joined Watson in the playoff as did Craig Stadler, Joe Ozaki, R.W. Eaks, Gil Morgan and Dana Quigley.

The Champions Tour is in the midst of a three-week run out west. The stretch will end next week in California for the Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, where Gil Morgan won last year.

The Golf Channel will have two hours of coverage on Friday, then will air action from 6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. (et) on Saturday and Sunday.


NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA CLASSIC, Elmhurst Country Club, Moscow, Pennsylvania - The Nationwide Tour heads to the Keystone State this week for the Northeast Pennsylvania Classic, which will contested on a new course this year.

Last year, Justin Bolli birdied two of the last three holes to move past Richard Johnson and Patrick Sheehan for the title. It was Bolli's second win on tour.

Bolli is on the PGA Tour this year and played his way into the FedEx Cup playoffs so he will not defend his crown.

However, four past champions will tee it up this week. Jeff Hart (2000), Jason Hill (2001), D.A. Points (2004) ad Craig Bowden (2006) will compete this week. Points and Bowden needed playoffs to win this event, the only two playoffs in tournament history.

The first eight years of this tournament the event was contested at Glenmaura National Golf Club. The event now shifts to Elmhurst Country Club, designed in 1929 by legendary architect Donald Ross.

There is no television this week. The tour moves to Utah next week for the Utah Championship, where Franklin Langham won last year.


JANE ROGERS CHAMPIONSHIP OF MISSISSAUGA, Lakeview Golf Course, Mississauga, Ontario - Byron Smith closed with rounds of 66-63 last year to move past Derek Gillespie to win this title.

Smith's win was his second of the season. This year Smith has played nine events and made the cut just six times. However, he has four top-10 finishes in those six events.

Smith is expected to be on hand this week to defend his title. He will be joined in the field by two amateur stars.

Manuel Villegas, brother of PGA Tour player Camilo Villegas, and Richard Lee have accepted sponsors invitations this week. Villegas plays golf at the University of Florida, while Lee became the second youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Open when he qualified for the championship last year.

The Jane Rogers Championship of Mississauga is named in honor of Jane Rogers, who while battling cancer herself raised funds for her cancer clinic, the Trillium Hospital in Mississauga.

There is no television this week. The Canadian Tour has a new event next week, the Seafort Country Classic.


U.S. AMATEUR, Pinehurst Country Club (Course Nos. 2 and 4), Pinehurst, North Carolina - The U.S. Amateur returns to Pinehurst for the first time since 1962.

Last year's champion Colt Knost has turned professional and therefore will not defend his title.

There are several USGA Champions in the field this week including - Austin Eaton III (2004 U.S. Mid-Amateur), Kevin Marsh (2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur), Philip Francis (2006 U.S. Junior Amateur), Brian Harman (2003 U.S. Junior Amateur), Jack Newman (2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links), Cameron Peck (2008 U.S. Junior Amateur), Kevin Tway (2005 U.S. Junior), Dave Womack (2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur), Sihwan Kim (2004 U.S. Junior Amateur), Nathan Smith (2003 U.S. Mid-Amateur).

The field included 315 players, which will be cut to 64 for the match play portion. The stroke play portion was contested on Monday and Tuesday, while match play will be played Wednesday through Sunday's 36-hole final.

The Golf Channel has coverage of all five rounds of match play starting on Wednesday. Coverage will be three hours on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, while they will carry two hours of play on Thursday and Friday.

The next USGA events scheduled are the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur and the U.S. Mid-Amateur, which both will be played from September 6-11.

08/18 17:50:35 ET

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