ON THE FAIRWAYS This week's pro golf events

Nissan Open
Schedule: Thursday-Sunday.
Course: Riviera Country Club (7,078 yards, par 71), Los Angeles.
Purse: $4.5 million. Winner's share: $810,000.
Television: USA (Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m.) and ABC (Saturday-Sunday, 3-6 p.m.).
Last year: Len Mattiace won his first tour title, closing with a 68 to beat South Africa's Rory Sabbatini by a stroke.
Last week: Tiger Woods won the Buick Invitational in his first start following knee surgery, finishing four strokes ahead of Sweden's Carl Pettersson.
Notes: Woods is back after missing his hometown event last year because of a virus. He made his first tour appearance in the 1992 tournament. Then 16, he missed the cut with rounds of 72 and 75. ... Ernie Els will return next week for the Match Play Championship at La Costa. He won the Johnnie Walker Classic last week in Australia for his fourth victory in five 2003 starts. ... Ben Hogan stamped the course as "Hogan's Alley" with three victories in 17 months -- the 1947 and 1948 Los Angeles Opens and 1948 U.S. Open. ... Colin Montgomerie is making his first start of the year. He lost a playoff to Steve Elkington at Riviera in the 1995 PGA. ... Sergio Garcia missed the cut last week in Australia. ... Fred Couples won in 1990 and 1992, and was second in 1993, 1994 and 1996. ... Robert Allenby won the 2001 event in a six-man playoff. ... The Chrysler Classic of Tucson also is next week, opposite the Match Play Championship.
Verizon Classic
Schedule: Friday-Sunday.
Course: TPC of Tampa Bay (6,783 yards, par 71), Lutz, Fla.
Purse: $1.6 million. Winner's share: $240,000.
Television: The Golf Channel (Friday, 1:30-4 p.m., 8-10:30 p.m.) and CNBC (Saturday-Sunday, 6-8 p.m.).
Last year: Doug Tewell won the first of two 2002 titles, holding off Hale Irwin and Bruce Fleisher by a stroke.
Last week: Argentina's Vicente Fernandez won for the first time since 1999, beating Tom Watson and Ireland's Des Smyth by three strokes in the ACE Group Classic.
Notes: Jack Nicklaus is making his second straight start. He tied for 58th last week in Naples with rounds of 76, 71 and 72. ... Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino also are in the field. ... Watson is winless in 84 pro starts in Florida. ... Bob Gilder won the 2001 event in his third senior start. ... The tour is off next week. Play will resume March 7-9 with the BosqueReal Championship in Mexico.
-- Associated Press

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