This Week in Golf -- March 22 through March 25

PGA TOUR - ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL, Bay The King hosts his annual tour stop as players begin making serious preparations for the Masters.

Arnold Palmer, 82, brings the game's best to his club, and the field is headlined, somewhat surprisingly by Tiger Woods.

The six-time champion, including four in a row from 2000, committed to the field despite withdrawing from the WGC-Cadillac Championship two weeks ago. He cited an Achilles strain, but Woods resumed a full schedule.

In addition to his participation in the Arnold Palmer field, Woods is also playing in the Tavistock Cup Monday and Tuesday. It's a lot of work for a slightly injured player with the Masters two weeks from Thursday.

For some, this week represents the last chance to try and get into the field for Augusta.

First among them is Ernie Els.

The Big Easy seemed poised for victory Sunday at the Transitions Championship. He held a one-shot lead on the 16th green and had five feet for birdie. Els missed that putt, bogeyed the last two and missed the playoff by a stroke.

Els will need to win this week in order to get into the Masters field.

Luke Donald, who won the Transitions to return to No. 1 in the world, is not in the field. The three men he topped in the playoff - Jim Furyk, Robert Garrigus and Sang-Moon Bae - are scheduled to play.

Phil Mickelson, the 1997 champion, will tee it up as well.

Last year, Martin Laird became the first European to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Scotsman recovered from a difficult opening 11 holes Sunday to shoot a three-over 75. Laird won by a single stroke over Steve Marino, who led by two on the back nine, but bogeyed the 15th and double-bogeyed the 17th.

Golf Channel has the action Thursday and Friday before NBC takes over on the weekend.

Next week is the Houston Open, which Mickelson won last year.


TROPHEE HASSAN II, Golf du Palais Royal, Agadir, Morocco - This year's third Trophee Hassan II drew a pretty strong field considering how many European players have been in the States preparing for the Masters.

The Molinari brothers, Matteo Manassero, Colin Montgomerie and struggling former major champions - Rich Beem and Michael Campbell - highlight this week's entry list.

The tournament's two previous winners are both in the field.

Rhys Davies earned his first European Tour title two years ago after a final- round 66. He went past British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen to finish at 25- under par.

Last year, David Horsey birdied the second playoff hole to defeat Jaco Van Zyl and Davies. Horsey aced the second hole in the final round to collect his second European Tour title.

The 2011 tournament was staged at the Golf du Palais Royal, the same venue as this year's event.

The winner's trophy may be the only weapon trophy in tournament golf. The champion receives a gem-encrusted gold dagger.

Golf Channel will broadcast all four rounds.

Next week is the Sicilian Open. Raphael Jacquelin earned a Monday victory after bad weather on Sunday.


KIA CLASSIC, La Costa Resort & Spa, Carlsbad, California - The LPGA Tour is in full swing and headed back to La Costa after a one-year break at Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms.

After the inaugural event, won by Hee Kyung Seo, was staged at La Costa, the tournament had to move. La Costa underwent a $50 million renovation project, but it's back and ready for the LPGA Tour.

The players may need some extra rest thanks to Sunday's marathon day at the LPGA Founders Cup.

After three weather delays that combined to last over three hours, world No. 1 Yani Tseng managed to win in near darkness. Tseng won by a stroke over No. 2 Na Yeon Choi and No. 7 Ai Miyazato.

All three are in the field this week, as is defending champion Sandra Gal.

On the 72nd hole, Gal and Jiyai Shin were all tied up with Shin three feet from the hole and Gal just a foot. Shin took a while to putt, then lipped out, opening the door for Gal's first win on the LPGA Tour.

Golf Channel will show all three rounds.

This week is the final warm-up for the season's first major championship, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Stacy Lewis outlasted Tseng for her first, and only, major title.


MISSISSIPPI GULF RESORT CLASSIC, Fallen Oak, Biloxi, Mississippi - The Champions Tour heads east after Loren Roberts' victory Sunday at the Toshiba Classic.

Last year, Tom Lehman shot a three-under 69 in Sunday's final round to post a four-shot win. It was his second victory of the year and fourth in his Champions Tour career.

Lehman, the 1996 Open champion, added a playoff win at the Tradition and eventually won the Champions Tour Player of the Year award.

Tom Pernice, Jr. will make his season debut, but two European players receive sponsor's exemptions.

Ian Woosnam, the 1991 Masters champion, and Anders Forsbrand, who won five times on the European Tour, although his last victory was at the 1995 German Masters, got into the field via the sponsor route.

Golf Channel has live action for all three rounds.

After a three-week break, the Champions Tour will return for the Encompass Insurance Pro-Am of Tampa Bay, which was won last year by John Cook.


LOUISIANA OPEN, Le Triomphe Country Club, Broussard, Louisiana - The Nationwide Tour heads back to the United States with the Louisiana Open and Brett Wetterich has a chance to make history.

No one has successfully defended a title in Nationwide Tour history and Wetterich will try to become the first this week.

Last year, Wetterich, who also won this title in 2003, shot a two-under 69 on Sunday to get the win. He has one PGA Tour victory as well, and that came at the 2006 Byron Nelson Championship. Wetterich also represented the U.S. in the Ryder Cup that same year.

There is no television for this event.

After a week off, the Nationwide Tour returns for the Soboda Golf Classic, which was won last year by Ted Potter, Jr.