Vijay Singh looks to wrap up his maiden money title; Davis Love III tries to keep alive his hopes for Player of the Year; Phil Mickelson tries to avoid his second winless season in 11 years, and qualify for the Tour Championship; Mike Weir, Ben Curtis and Shaun Micheel hope to add to their major-winning campaigns; and Ernie Els bid to win the first two and the final two events on the 03 tour calendar continues this week.
Oh yeah, theres also the not-so-miniscule matter of those playing for their livelihoods.
After 42 weeks of practicing, playing, traveling, grinding and recovering, it all comes down to72 holes of golf at the Westin Innisbrook Golf resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.
The top 125 on the money list at weeks end will keep or gain their tour cards for the 2004 season. Those from 125 to 150 will receive a special exempt status on tour that will get them in roughly 20 events for next season. And those outside the top 150, without aid of an already procured status, such as Past Champion, will be thinking Q-School or Nationwide Tour.
This weeks field is littered with players desperately trying to retain or attain their tour cards at the 11th hour.
Per-Ulrik Johansson is the man on the bubble at No. 125. He stands at $484,577. Dicky Pride is No. 126, just $654 behind.
Mark OMeara is also in the field. He is at No. 142 in earnings, $96,228 back of Johansson. OMearas five-year tour exemption from winning the 1998 British Open expires after this week. If he doesnt crack the top 125, he will have to use his one-time exemption for being in the top 50 in career earnings to keep full-exempt status for 2004.
The 46-year-old has never finished outside the top 125 in his 23-year tour career.
Singh is fresh off his fourth victory of the season, at the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World. He now leads Tiger Woods on the money list by just over $250,000.
First place this week is $864,000. There is no cut at the Tour Championship, where the winner will receive $1 million, meaning last place in the 30-man field is guaranteed money.
If I win next week then he can win the Tour Championship and he aint gonna beat me, Singh said with a laugh after surpassing Woods in seasonal earnings on Sunday.
Woods isnt playing outside of Tampa, and said he had no desire to add it to his schedule, even though he could be locked out of the money race when he tees it up for the season finale in Houston, Texas.
The most important thing for me is being ready for the Tour Championship, Woods said. If he (Singh) has it wrapped up then, so be it. I think anyone would rather have Player of the Year than the money title.
Love, on the other hand, needs each of the next two weeks in order to win the money title and/or Player of the Year. He has won four times, including The Players Championship, and feels he needs a couple more victories to secure either award.
I still have to do what I said a month ago, and thats win two tournaments. And theres two left, said Love, who is third on the money list, trailing Singh by over $1.34 million.
K.J. Choi won last years event, known as the Tampa Bay Classic, at the Copperhead Course (par 71, 7,295 yards), which will again play host this year.
Choi opened in 63 and fired three straight 68s to ease to a seven-stroke victory over Glen Day.
The South Korean is currently 29th on the money list and needs a solid title defense to secure his spot in the Tour Championship.
All of the players ranked 19-51 on the money list are scheduled to compete this week. Rocco Mediate is the man at No. 30. Hes trying to hold off the likes of Micheel (31), Fred Couples (32), Mickelson (37) and Curtis (45).
Mickelson has qualified for the Tour Championship each of the last 10 years. He trails Mediate by $209,518.