Phil Mickelson is choosing competition over course conditions as he prepares for the next major. In a year when several players are skipping the Scottish Open, Mickelson tops the field at Loch Lomond, which also features U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell. A victory would put him at No.1 in the world. The Masters winner is the only player from the top 10 entered for the $4 million event that starts today. "I think the best way to get in playing condition for the (British) Open is to play well, get into contention and compete on Sunday for the title here," Mickelson said.
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Healthy Stricker begins defense
Steve Stricker is well rested, pain free and ready to defend his title this week at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill. Stricker, ranked fourth in the world, took six weeks off in April and May to rest an aching right shoulder. He has played in only two tournaments since returning to the tour. But he's healthy and feels confident coming back to the Illinois course where last year he tied the tourney record with 61 in the second round and won by three strokes.
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British winner to get $60,000 more
The winner of the British Open will earn the equivalent of $1.29 million, about $60,000 more than last year. A total purse of $7.3 million will give $759,000 to the runnerup and $496,000 for third place. Royal and Ancient Club chief executive Peter Dawson said organizers have taken into account the pound's weakened position against the dollar and the euro.
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Ailing Toms, Kim out of British
David Toms withdrew from the British Open to rest an ailing right shoulder, and Anthony Kim formally pulled out as he recovers from thumb surgery. They were replaced in the field at St. Andrews by Ricky Barnes and Davis Love. Toms has been coping with a bone spur in his rotator cuff since the spring and has been trying to get by without surgery.
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PGA making inroads in Asia
It might not be long before the PGA Tour has an Asian Swing after the FedEx Cup portion of the season is over. The tour returns to Shanghai on Nov. 4-7 for a World Golf Championship, this time treating the HSBC Champions as an official victory if a tour member is holding the trophy. A week earlier is the inaugural Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia, which is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour and offers a $6 million purse. After that? Stay tuned. "We're looking at possibilities in Japan, Korea, China," tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.
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Pavin turns to last Ryder captain
Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin has been talking to his predecessors to learn what he can, and that group finally includes immediate past captain Paul Azinger. Azinger revealed as much in a tweet last week: "Talked to Pavin about RC. Sent him book Cracking t Code, $24.95. Shipping $7.50, texts $2.00, my advice 2 cents, another U.S. victory PRICELESS." In Azinger's book Cracking the Code, he explains how he tried to create accountability and teamwork by grouping his teams into pods of four players.
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Tampa Bay Golf Tour
Tampabay.com/golf is a one-stop guide to golf in our area. Information about every public and executive course is broken down by county and price range. Maps are also available for each course. Additionally, we are building a library of video reviews so you can see what the courses look like.
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New this week
River Ridge Golf Course: It's a quirky course. It runs through a housing development but also has holes in dense woods and marshland. It's not long - par is 68 - but has challenging par 3s and a few long holes, including the 530-yard par-5 11th. The par-3 fourth hole has an island green, and the 15th hole has a drive over a road from the blue tees. The choice of club off the tee determines everything on this course.
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New next week
Sherman Hills Golf Club: An aptly named course right off I-75 and U.S. 301 in Brooksville. The course uses the naturally hilly terrain of Hernando County to carve out 18 holes of up and down golf. There isn't much water on the par 72 course, but there are plenty of elevated tees and greens. And the fairways are mostly uneven as well, so even a drive down the middle is no sure thing.