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Bunker Shots Key Venues

Blasting into the week ahead, from a Golden Bear host to a sneak peak at the next Ryder Cup venue ...


PGA Tour (75x100)

The Memorial

After missing the cut at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial last week, Phil Mickelson will be looking to fix his swing before the U.S. Open.

Mickelson’s game has never been as right as he would like it to be in the presence of host Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village.

In nine tries, Mickelson has two top-10 finishes at the Memorial, his best finish a tie for fourth in 2006.

Mickelson has broken 70 just six times in the 34 rounds he’s played there and he boasts an unremarkable scoring average of 71.7 at Muirfield Village.

Six of the top 10 in the world rankings are scheduled to appear with No. 1 Woods and No. 2 Mickelson joining No. 4 Steve Stricker, No. 5 Jim Furyk, No. 7 Ernie Els and No. 9 Rory McIlroy in the field.

Bunker shot: Like Mickelson, Woods also will be aiming to right his game before the U.S. Open, but Woods has history working for him. In 11 starts at the Memorial, Woods has four victories, including last year’s triumph. He has finished fourth or better seven times there and boasts a scoring average of 69.5. If Woods can’t get right at Jack’s place, where he hit all 14 fairways in the final round a year ago, he might actually lose his favorite status heading to the U.S. Open in two weeks at Pebble Beach, where he won by 15 shots in 2000.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Geoff Ogilvy. Contender – Stewart Cink. Darkhorse – Matt Kuchar.

  • Course: Muirfield Village, Dublin, Ohio. Par 72, 7,366 yards (Designed by Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead and opened in 1974).
  • Purse: $6 million (winner’s share, $1,080,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday – Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., replay 8:30-11:30 p.m.; Saturday – Golf Channel, 12:30-2:30 p.m.; CBS, 3-6 p.m.; Golf Channel replay 9:30-11:30 p.m. Sunday – Golf Channel, noon to 2 p.m.; CBS, 3-6 p.m.; Golf Channel replay, 9:30-11:30 p.m.
  • Last time: Tiger Woods shot a final-round 65 for his fourth victory in the event.

2009 European TourCeltic Manor Wales Open

Golf fans get more than a sneak peak at the home of this fall’s Ryder Cup.

They’ll get to see some European Ryder Cup hopefuls, including Luke Donald, play the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor in this week’s European Tour stop. Donald is coming off a victory at last week’s Madrid Masters. The 38th rendition of the matches will be played in Wales for the first time Oct. 1-3.

Those watching also will get to see European captain Colin Montgomerie, who’s in this week’s field. Montgomerie’s competitive juices should be stoked wandering around the venue, so expect the colorful Scot to stir the pot with some strong opinions regarding this fall’s international team event. There’s always some sort of soap opera playing out on the European side before their arrival. Four months out, the Europeans are favored to win the Ryder Cup. Ladbrokes makes their odds 4/6. Montgomerie will be closely watching potential captain’s picks.

Bunker shot: Across the Atlantic, somebody cruelly coined the term for underachievement among professional golfers as “Luke Donald’s Disease.” Donald had an answer last week, winning the Madrid Masters a week after stumbling in his bid to win the BMW PGA Championship. The Englishman’s hot, having finished first, second and third in his last three starts. With a major championship a little more than two weeks away, Donald has a chance to fashion the “Luke Donald Cure.”

Mell’s picks: Winner – Luke Donald. Contender – Rhys Davies. Darkhorse – Jamie Donaldson.

  • Course: Celtic Manor Resort’s Twenty Ten Course, Newport, Wales. Par 71, 7,378 yards (Designed by Ross McMurray of European Golf Design and opened in 2007).  
  • Purse: 1,800,000 euros (winner’s share, 350,940 euros)
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Last time: Denmark’s Jeppe Huldahl defeated Niclas Fasth by a shot.

Champions TourThe Principal Charity Classic

Fred Couples keeps his amazing pace going.

Couples, who lost the Senior PGA Championship in a playoff last weekend, tees it up for the 13th time on the Champions and PGA tours this season, for the eighth time in the last 11 weeks. Couples has three victories and two second-place finishes in eight starts on the over-50 circuit this season.

Bunker shot: With debate ongoing over whether U.S. captain Corey Pavin needed a “brain scan” after suggesting it’s no lock he would pick Woods if Woods didn’t make the American team on points this fall, Pavin made a run at winning the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on Sunday. He’ll take that momentum and loads of confidence to Glen Oaks in a bid to win his first Champions Tour event in his seventh start.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Corey Pavin. Contender – Fred Couples. Darkhorse – Joey Sindelar.

  • Course: Glen Oaks Country Club, West Des Moines, Iowa. Par 71, 6,789 yards (Designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1994).
  • Purse: $1,725,000 (winner’s share, $258,750).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.; Saturday, 6:30-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.; Sunday, 7-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.
  • Last time: Mark McNulty defeated Fred Funk and Nick Price in a playoff.

Nationwide TourMelwood Prince George’s County Open

Mathias Gronberg, who won last year’s event at The Country Club at Woodmore in Mitchellville, Md., is back to defend his title on a new course, the University of Maryland Golf Course.

Bunker shot: The top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list, coveted because at year’s end those folks earn promotions to the PGA Tour, is an insecure collection of PGA Tour hopefuls this time of year. So much can change so quickly. Through 10 events of a 29-event schedule, Jon Mills holds down the 25th spot with $69,500 in official money. With $108,000 up for grabs this week, a player who hasn’t earned a single dollar this year could jump as high as 14th on the money list.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Kevin Chappel. Contender – Mathias Gronberg. Darkhorse – Justin Peters.

  • Course: University of Maryland Golf Course, College Park, Md. Par 71, 7,019 yards (Designed by George Cobb and opened in 1958).
  • Purse: $600,000 (winner’s share, $108,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 12:30-2:30 p.m.: Saturday, 2:30-5 p.m.; Sunday, 2-4:30 p.m.
  • Last time: Mathias Gronberg closed with a 65 to win by six shots.