Charging to AmEx Through Texas

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In one week, the games most recognizable players will awaken from their slumbers and return to rake in more money in the $6-million World Golf Championship-American Express Championship.
 
There is no cut in the exclusive event, meaning even the worst of the best wont go home empty-handed.
 
For the most part, the field is set. Those currently in the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking are invited to compete, as are the top 30 on the PGA Tour money list - as of Sept. 22. Others off of money lists from around the world will also be in attendance.
 
But the field is not yet finalized. And that fact adds another element to this weeks Valero Texas Open.
 
Players can punch a ticket to the seasons third WGC event if they can creep inside the top 50 in the world rankings or into the top 30 on the money list after this week (those who may get bumped out of either category will not lose a spot in the field, as they earned their inclusion the week before).
 
There are six players who are not already in the AmEx field, ranked 51-70 in the world, who will tee it up in Texas. John Rollins (56), Tim Clark (57), Loren Roberts (60), Stewart Cink (65), Rory Sabbatini (67) and John Huston (69) will try and play their ways to Woodstock, Ga.
 
Sabbatini and others could also gain entry via the money list. The South African is currently 33rd in earnings. Nine players who are not already exempt into the AmEx, from 30-50 on the money list, are playing this week: Briny Baird (32), Sabbatini, Tim Petrovic (35), Rollins (36), Stuart Appleby (40), Robert Gamez (41), Cink (42), Ben Crane (44), and Frank Lickliter (49).
 
Scott Verplank is currently 30th on the money list. Lickliter, who tied for second in the 84 Lumber Classic, trails Verplank, who is absent from Texas, by just over $440,000. First place this week is $630,000.
 
But this week isnt all about next week. For many, its about next year.
 
There are only six full-field events remaining on the 2003 PGA Tour schedule. That means only six more opportunities to secure ones card for 2004.
 
There are 23 players from 120-150 on the money list committed to play at LaCantera.
 
Roberts is back to try and defend his title. He collected his eighth career tour victory a year ago in San Antonio, Texas. And doing so at the age of 47, he became the oldest winner on tour since Tom Watson won the Colonial in 1998 at 48.
 
What was a trend in 2002 ' players 40 and over winning on tour ' has almost become the norm in '03. Nine different 40-somethings have at least one trophy on their mantel this season.
 
Roberts will try and follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Justin Leonard. Leonard won in consecutive seasons, in 2000 and 2001. The Dallas native will not have a chance to make it 3-for-4 as he is at home with his wife and newborn.
 
Overall, there have been eight multiple winners of this event. Bill Mehlhorn won back-to-back in 1928-29. Arnold Palmer is the only player to win three times, doing so in succession from 1960-62.
 
The par-71, 7,001-yard LaCantera layout will play host for the ninth straight year.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Valero Texas Open
  • More PGA Tour Preview Information