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Mickelson defends title at Greater Hartford

While Tiger Woods basks in the glow of another major championship, Phil Mickelson will seek to defend his title at the $4 million Greater Hartford Open beginning Thursday at the Tournament Players Club at River Highlands.

Mickelson celebrated his 32nd birthday last Sunday, but again took a back seat to Woods, who won the U.S. Open with a 3-under-par 277. He remained winless in majors tournaments, finishing second for the third time in 40 tries.

Second to Woods in the world rankings, earnings and titles among active PGA Tour members, Mickelson gets to escape the shadow of Tiger at least for this weekend.

Mickelson fired a 16-under-par 264 in last year's tournament with a career-low third round of 9-under 61 that tied the course record en route to a one-stroke victory over Billy Andrade.

A winner of 20 PGA Tournaments, Mickelson defends his title in a field that features five of the top 10 players in the world golf rankings.

Sergio Garcia, who is ranked fourth, finished fourth at the U.S. Open last week and has six top 10 finishes in 14 starts this year.

Ernie Els is ranked third in the world and has a pair of wins on the European Tour this season. He tied for 24th at the U.S. Open last week.

David Duval, the seventh-ranked player in the world, has missed the cut in each of his last two starts. He has just one top-10 in 14 appearances this season.

Vijay Singh tied for 30th at the U.S. Open, where he had three 75s and a third-round 67. The eighth-ranked player has six top-10s in 16 starts this season.

Scott Verplank tied the course record with a 61 here last year, but was unable to crack the top 10 and has just three top 10 finishes in 15 starts this season.

The par-70 course is a 6,820-yard layout.

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