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Tiger Woods set for season debut


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - He's baaack.

Tiger Woods appears on the PGA Tour for the first time this season at an event he has won three of the last four years, and four times overall -- the Buick Invitational.

Few places post golf odds before Monday evening, so we couldn't find any before filing This Week. But we're betting Tiger Woods' odds to win are as close to equal with the field's as you can get.

He might not acknowledge it himself, but Tiger Woods' winning streak in PGA Tour- sanctioned events is alive and well: six tournaments and counting.

The only official event Tiger Woods has entered since last year's British Open that he didn't win was the HSBC World Match Play Championship. Before that, the world's top golfer rattled off five titles in a row, including the British and PGA Championships.


He will become a new father this year, his first full season since the death of his own father, Earl, last spring. But don't expect a to see a softer side of Tiger Woods come Sundays.

If last year proved anything, his famously scary closing skills are only improving. They certainly looked a lot better as the season went on and Tiger Woods started winning early in the summer.

At this event last year, he backed into a playoff with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole, then outlasted Jose Maria Olazabal and rookie Nathan Green for the title.

This week he shares the field with Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and the last player besides himself to win the Buick Invitational, John Daly (2004).

Television coverage will be from 3-6 p.m. (et) each day, carried by The Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday and by CBS on the weekend. Next week's event is the FBR Open, which was won by 2005 Q school champion J.B. Holmes last year.

EUROPEAN TOUR

QATAR MASTERS, Doha Golf Club, West Bay, Doha, Qatar - If you want proof that you should be watching the European Tour, look no further than this week's Qatar Masters.

The field in Doha includes four major championship winners (Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Michael Campbell and Paul Lawrie) and seven members of the winning European Ryder Cup team (Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, Paul Casey, Lee Westwood and Robert Karlsson), not to mention a handful of past tournament champions as well as international stars like Chris DiMarco and Stuart Appleby.

Two years ago, Els slipped past Stenson for a one-shot victory. Last season it was Stenson's turn, with the Swede rolling to a three-shot win for the first of two 2006 titles.

Meanwhile, Casey is fresh off his victory in last week's Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, a win that helped him climb to No. 13 in the latest Official World Golf Ranking.

Which is all to say that this year's field is the best in the event's nine years. And there's a hefty purse to boot: a tournament-record $2.2 million.

So, check it out. The Golf Channel will have tape-delayed coverage of all four rounds beginning at 9:30 a.m. (et) each day. The European Tour continues its Gulf Swing next week with the Dubai Desert Classic, where defending champion Tiger Woods is scheduled to return.

CHAMPIONS TOUR

TURTLE BAY CHAMPIONSHIP, Palmer Course at Turtle Bay Resort, Kahuku, Hawaii - Last year, Loren Roberts made the Turtle Bay Championship the second of three consecutive wins in his first full season on the Champions Tour.

A notable victory, but not just for that reason. It also ended the five-year tournament winning streak of Hale Irwin, who had claimed each title dating back to 2000 when the event was called the Kaanapali Classic.

The all-time Champions Tour wins leader, Irwin had a quiet 2006 season, his first without a title since 1995. But he opened the 2007 season last week by claiming his first victory in 15 months at the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai.

Irwin now has 11 all-time professional wins in Hawaii, including the 1981 Hawaiian Open on the PGA Tour. Apparently, he likes playing there.

The Golf Channel will carry live coverage of all three rounds. The Champions Tour is off next week, returning on February 9th with the Allianz Championship, which Gil Morgan won last June.

NATIONWIDE TOUR

MOVISTAR PANAMA CHAMPIONSHIP, Panama Golf Club, Panama City, Panama - For the fourth straight year, the Nationwide Tour will begin its season in Panama.

The Movistar Panama Championship kicks off the tour's 32-event 2007 season, which opens with three events outside of North America (including the Jacob's Creek Open in Australia and the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship).

Last year, Tripp Isenhour beat Brendan Pappas by three shots for the first of his two 2006 victories. Isenhour, now on the PGA Tour, will not be in the field to defend his title -- not a rarity on the Nationwide Tour, where no player has ever repeated as a champion.

The tour is off for two weeks before Jacob's Creek, where Paul Sheehan won a playoff last season.

 

Read more at www.tsn.ca




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