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This Week in Golf -- February 22nd through February 26th

EUROPEAN TOUR - WGC-ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY Carlton Golf Club (Saguaro/Tortolita Nines), Dove Professional golf's version of March Madness hits in February.

The top 64 players in the world rankings are eligible to tee it up this week, although two backed out. Phil Mickelson, a playoff loser at Riviera, announced weeks ago that he had a family vacation scheduled, so he's out.

Paul Casey, a two-time runner-up, is still out with injury. The benefactors of those withdrawals are George Coetzee and Ernie Els, who, surprisingly, will be the No. 64 seed.

That means Els drew world No. 1 and defending champion Luke Donald in Wednesday's first round.

Donald's ascension to the No. 1 ranking began in a lot of ways at this time last year. He bested Martin Kaymer in, 3 & 2 in the final. The loss pushed Kaymer to first in the rankings, but Donald used the victory, where none of his matches made it to the 18th hole, as a springboard.

He won the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour and then became No. 1. Donald captured the Scottish Open and, needing a victory to win the money title on the PGA Tour, took home the season-ending Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.

All totaled, Donald won the money title on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, becoming the first player in history to accomplish the feat.

Donald is No. 1 overall and tops the Bobby Jones bracket. Kaymer is first in the Ben Hogan bracket, while U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy is highest-ranked in the Gary Player bracket. Lee Westwood is the final No. 1 seed and he heads up the Sam Snead bracket.

There will be 32 first-round matches on Wednesday, followed by 16 second-round matches on Thursday, eight third-round matches on Friday, with the quarterfinals on Saturday. The semifinals are Sunday morning, while the championship and consolation matches will be held Sunday afternoon.

Could this be the week Tiger Woods finally wins again on the PGA Tour? He's a three-time champion, a match-play wizard and owner of impressive tournament records.

Woods trounced Stewart Cink, 8 & 7, to win in 2008. That is the largest margin of victory in a championship and Woods' owns the biggest winning margin in tournament history with a 9 & 8, drubbing of Stephen Ames in 2006.

Golf Channel has the broadcast for the first three rounds and early coverage on Saturday and Sunday. NBC has the end of the action on the weekend.

The PGA Tour travels to Florida next week for The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, where Rory Sabbatini is the defending champion. The European Tour and PGA Tour will be in Florida in two weeks for the WGC - Cadillac Championship in Miami, where Nick Watney will defend his title.

PGA TOUR

MAYAKOBA GOLF CLASSIC - El Camaleon, Riviera Maya, Mexico - With the world's best at the WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship, the rest of the PGA Tour can tee it up down in Mexico.

Last year, Johnson Wagner downed Spencer Levin in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title. This year, these two have had major roles in the 2012 PGA Tour season.

Wagner won the Sony Open in Hawaii, after a top 10 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He tied for second at the Humana Challenge and won January's PGA Tour Player of the Month.

Levin squandered a six-shot lead during the final round of the Phoenix Open.

Greg Norman is the course designer and will be playing in his second PGA Tour event of the season. Norman teed it up in the Humana Challenge at the behest of his friend and tournament host, President Bill Clinton.

John Cook, a Champions Tour standout, joins fellow elder circuit players, 2007 winner Fred Funk, Nick Price and Tom Lehman in the field. Funk became the second golfer in history to win on the Champions Tour, then go back and win on the PGA Tour when he titled here in 2007.

Golf Channel has tape-delayed coverage all week.

Next week, the PGA Tour travels to Florida for The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, where Sabbatini is the defending champion.

LPGA TOUR

HSBC WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS 2012 - Tanah Merah Country Club, Garden Course, Singapore - The LPGA Tour ends its Asian swing with a stop in Singapore for the HSBC Women's Champions.

A select field will be on hand, including last week's winner in Thailand, world No. 1 Yani Tseng. European Solheim Cuppers Melissa Reid and Laura Davies were given sponsor's exemptions.

Last year, Karrie Webb shot a three-under 69 in Sunday's final round to overcome leader Chie Arimura. It was the 37th career LPGA Tour victory for Webb, who picked up win No. 38 in her very next start, the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.

Arimura had led after each of the first three rounds, but the Hall-of-Famer snuck by in the final round. With Webb's first-place check for $210,000, she became the second player after Annika Sorenstam to surpass $16 million in career earnings.

The HSBC Women's Champions was the first official stroke-play event that the LPGA Tour has played in Singapore. Tanah Merah Country Club in Singapore is the site of this week's event and has hosted the Singapore Open, the Johnnie Walker Classic on the European Tour and the Lexus Cup on the LPGA Tour.

Golf Channel will handle the broadcast.

In three weeks, the LPGA Tour returns for the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup with Webb as its defending champion.

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