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This Week in Golf — October 6th through October 9th

Philadelphia, PA PGA TOUR – FRYS.COM OPEN – CordeValle Golf Did you ever think youd see the day when Tiger Woods essentially had to play a Fall Series event?

Granted, Woods isnt playing in order to make enough money to get a spot in the top 125 on the money list and secure his card for next year. There is another reason.

American Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples asked Woods to play before the international team matches in order to be one of his captains picks. Woods obliged and picked this week due, in large part, to the proximity of the course and where he grew up.

So this week will be his tune up before heading to Australia in a few weeks for the Australian Open the week before The Presidents Cup. It will also be the first time Woods competes as a player ranked outside the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time since October of 1996.

One of Woods best adversaries heads to the Frys.com Open as the defending champion.

Rocco Mediate, who lost to Woods in 91 holes at the 2008 US Open, holed out for eagle in all four rounds and needed every one of the strokes to win last years Frys.com Open. He shot a final-round 73 — enough for a one-stroke victory over Bo Van Pelt and Alex Prugh.

The win was Mediates first in almost eight years and got him his playing privileges for this year and next. He went into last years event at No. 182 on the money list, but the victory and its two-year exemption jumped Mediate into the top 75 on the money list.

Mediate, who made some critical comments last week about Woods recent swing woes, has had a 2011 to forget. Marred by several withdrawals and several missed cuts, Mediates best finish was a 31st at the season-opening Tournament of Champions. While a 31st isnt a terrible finish, its tainted a bit by the fact that only 32 players finished four rounds.

Woods isnt the only big name in the field this week. Ernie Els, Angel Cabrera, Paul Casey and last years British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen are all set to tee it up on Thursday.

Golf Channel has the coverage all week.

Next week is the McGladrey Classic in Sea Island, Georgia. Heath Slocum won the title last year by a single stroke over new FedEx Cup champion and US Presidents Cup team member Bill Haas.

EUROPEAN TOUR

MADRID MASTERS – El Encin Golf Hotel, Alcala de Henares, Spain – World No. 1 Luke Donald heads to the capital of Spain for a title defense.

He will become the first No. 1-ranked player to tee it up at the Madrid Masters since Nick Faldo in 1993. Donald, who won this title in May last year, stays on the European Tour this week in a bid to lead both the PGA Tour and European Tour money lists.

Donald eagled the 16th hole on Sunday last year en route to a one-shot victory over playing partner Rhys Davies. It was his first win since the 2006 Honda Classic on the PGA Tour and started the great run that made him the worlds top-ranked player.

This will be Donalds last tournament for a little while. His wife is due to give birth, so Donald will be trying to pad his lead in the Race to Dubai before a break.

Jose Maria Olazabal will try to get a good look at Donald, whos sure to be on Olazabals European Ryder Cup team next year at Medinah. Olazabal leads the Spanish contingent with long-hitting Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez- Castano.

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, who won this title in 2008 is also set to play this week.

Golf Channel has the telecast for the week.

Next week is the Portugal Masters, where Richard Green captured the title a year ago.

LPGA TOUR

LPGA HANABANK CHAMPIONSHIP – Sky 72 Golf Club, Ocean Course, Incheon, South Korea – The LPGA Tour begins its Asia swing this week, one week later than expected.

The Imperial Springs LPGA was on tap for last week in China, but tournament officials couldnt get proper permits for the tournament.

Last year, current world No. 4 Na Yeon Choi posted a final-round 69 to win by two strokes over Vicky Hurst. Choi has had eight top-10s this season, including a playoff loss to Suzann Pettersen at the Safeway Classic, but has yet to win.

In total, 48 of the top 52 players on the LPGA Tour money list are scheduled to tee it up in the 54-hole event.

This is the first event back for the LPGA Tour since the dramatic Solheim Cup, where Pettersen led the Europeans to a victory for the first time since 2003.

Lexi Thompson, who became the youngest winner in tour history at the last stroke-play tournament, the Navistar LPGA Classic, was granted membership on the tour for next year. However, the 16-year-old wont be in the field starting Friday.

Golf Channel will carry the action for all three rounds.

Next week is the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. Jimin Kang defeated the venerable Juli Inkster by a single stroke last year.

CHAMPIONS TOUR

INSPERITY CHAMPIONSHIP – The Woodlands Country Club, The Woodlands, Texas – Hopefully Couples doesnt totally have The Presidents Cup on his mind because hes got a title to defend.

Last year, Couples blitzed the back nine for a 29 and turned a two-stroke deficit into a seven-shot victory. He fired a nine-under 63 and collected his fourth Champions Tour win of the season.

Couples won this years Senior Players Championship and has three other top-10s this season. He took fifth last week at the SAS Championship.

Couples has enjoyed great success in Houston, where he went to college. With last years win at the Insperity, Couples became the second Champions Tour player to win a PGA Tour and Champions Tour event in the same city. Tom Watson captured the 1980 British Open and 2007 Senior British Open at Muirfield.

Golf Channel will broadcast all three rounds.

Next week is the ATT Championship, where Rod Spittle walked off with the title last year.

NATIONWIDE TOUR

CHILDRENS HOSPITAL CLASSIC – Black Creek Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee – With just three more tournaments before the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship, jockeying for position on the money list is of the utmost importance.

Danny Lee won the WNB Golf Classic on Sunday in a playoff over Harris English, who won the Childrens Hospital Invitational when he was an amateur.

Last year, Australias Scott Gardiner defeated Joe Affrunti and David Branshaw in a playoff to win this event. Branshaw fell out of the extra session on the first extra hole, then Gardiner birdied the fourth playoff hole to get his first Nationwide Tour victory.

Gardiner is back in the field this week and can make history with a victory. No one has ever successfully defended a title on the Nationwide Tour.

There is no television coverage for the event.

Next week is the Miccosukee Championship in Miami, where Jason Gore hoisted the trophy last year.

Kevin Na Seizes First PGA Tour Title

Kevin Na, who was touted in both Korea and the US as one of the most promising up-and-coming golfers of his generation, finally earned his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday, eight years after his professional debut.

The 28-year-old Korean-American, also known as Na Sang-wook, struck a 23-under 261 at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to edge runner-up Nick Watney by two strokes. The tournament, which features a weaker field of middle and lower-ranked players, ranks as the first event of the fall season.

Na has finished runner-up on the Tour three times and mustered five third-place finishes in the 211 competitions he has entered. With the winners prize money of US$756,000, Na moves up from 50th to 33rd in the money rankings.

Five things: Lexi, Na, Perry and more

1. Ladies Choice

On Friday, Lexi Thompson was granted LPGA Tour membership, one day after she petitioned the tour to waive its policy of members being at least 18. Mike Whan, the LPGA Tour commissioner, had no choice but to grant the talented 16-year-old a tour card for 2012 after she won the Navistar LPGA Classic in September.