One More Major Tune-up

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The march to the Masters makes its final pit stop in Atlanta suburb Duluth, Ga., for the BellSouth Classic -- less than three hours down the road from Augusta.
 
Phil Mickelson returns to action for the first time since losing to Jerry Kelly in the third round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. He took the last month off while his wife, Amy, gave birth to their third child.
 
This could prove to be a positive tune-up for the seasons first major. He won at the TPC at Sugarloaf, the BellSouth venue, in 2000.
 
Mickelsons not the only player taking a break from diaper duty. Defending champion Retief Goosen played in his first event last week since the birth of his first child, son Leo. He missed the cut at The Players Championship.
 
Goosen didnt show his best form a year ago at this event, but he still played well enough to win by four over Jesper Parnevik.
 
The South African started the final round with a two-shot advantage over Mickelson, and bettered his American counterpart by three on Sunday. Mickelson shot 73 in the final round to finish alone in third place.
 
While many near the top of the Official World Golf ranking are taking the week off to rest and prepare for a busy week at Augusta National, a few of last weeks contenders are in attendance, including runners-up Jay Haas and Padraig Harrington.
 
This is the 35th playing of the event, and the seventh time Sugarloaf has been the host venue. Course designer Greg Norman is a question mark for the field. He had to withdraw from The Players ' his first PGA Tour event of the season ' after a first-round 78, due to a back injury.
 
The purse is $4 million, with $720,000 going to the winner.
 
Goosen is trying to become the first player to win this tournament in consecutive years. Hale Irwin won in 1975 and 77 at the Atlanta Athletic Club. The event was not contested in 1976, the club playing host that year to the U.S. Open.
 
Six players have won the BellSouth twice. Scott McCarron was the most recent, first winning in 1997 and again in 2001.
 
Related Links
  • PGA Tour Statistical Preview
  • Full coverage of the BellSouth Classic