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Couples & O'Meara complete Tiger's event

Fred Couples and Mark O'Meara have received sponsors exemptions to play in the Tiger Woods Foundation's Williams World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club, Nov. 30-Dec. 3.

The $3.5 million event will feature 12 of the world's finest golfers playing for a $1 million first prize. The 12th-place finisher will receive $120,000.

Joining Couples and O¹Meara to complete the 12-man field will be defending champion Tom Lehman, tournament host Tiger Woods, 2000 Masters champion Vijay Singh, 2000 Players Championship winner Hal Sutton, 1997 PGA champion Davis Love III, 1999 Players Championship winner David Duval, 1997 British Open winner Justin Leonard, two-time winner in 2000 Jesper Parnevik, Spanish sensation Sergio Garcia, and rising star Stewart Cink.

One of the PGA Tour's most popular golfers, Couples, a Seattle native, now makes Southern California his home. A resident of Santa Barbara, the 1992 Masters champion lives about one hour from Sherwood and has always played well in Southern California. Couples is a two-time winner of the Nissan Open (1990 and '92) at Riviera Country Club , the 1998 winner of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, and a three-time winner of the Skins Game in 1995, 1996, and 1999

"I love playing in Southern California," said Couples."The fans are always so supportive of me and I have always played pretty well out here"

Couples is very familiar with Sherwood Country Club. Teaming with Duval in 1999 and Brad Faxon in 1994, he won the Shark Shootout at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course that played host to the event for 10 years. Sherwood, which opened 12 years ago, boasts one of the top golf courses in the world and features 1,800 full mature oak trees and lush landscaping including waterfalls, jasmine and rose bushes.

O'Meara, who played most of his junior golf in Southern California, has been one of the PGA Tour's steadiest players throughout his career. Improving with age, he set a record at the age of 41 when he became the oldest player to win two majors in a single year in 1998.

In winning the Masters that year, O'Meara joined Arnold Palmer and Art Wall as the only players ever to birdie the final two holes on their way to a victory at Augusta National. His birdie-birdie finish gave him the victory over Couples and Duval.

At the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale, O'Meara continued his remarkable year. Trailing after three rounds, he shot a final round 68 to force a playoff against Brian Watts. He won the four-hole playoff by two strokes to join Nick Price and Nick Faldo as the only players in the 1990s to win two majors in a year. In recognition of his efforts that year, he was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year.

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