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All to play for at Chrysler Championship

The Chrysler Championship is shaping up as one of the most interesting tournaments of the 2003 season. In the end, it could even take away some of the luster from next week's Tour Championship.

Credit part of the reason for the importance of the Chrysler to the PGA Tour's decision to give the Tour Championship a week to itself instead of sharing a date with another event, which for the past few years has been the Southern Farm Bureau Classic.

The Southern Farm was pushed ahead five weeks in the schedule, leaving the Chrysler as the final full-field tournament of the season. That brings even more attention to the battle for the top 125 positions in money earnings and the accompanying year-long exemption on Tour.

That's as it should be. Giving the last full-field tournament a separate date further emphasizes the value of finishing among the top 125.

By late Sunday afternoon, we all will know who has claimed a Tour card for next season and who will be making travel plans for the PGA Qualifying School.

As fascinating as the race for the top 125 can be, it's not the only plum up for grabs in Palm Harbor, Fla.

For the first time since 1998, the Player of the Year and the money title remain undecided as the season creeps into November. World No. 1 Tiger Woods has won both titles for the past four years, and still could this season, but now he has some competition.

A handful of players could win the Player of the Year voting, which will take place after the season and will be announced in early December. Over the course of a long season, players such as Kenny Perry, Masters champion Mike Weir and U.S. Open winner Jim Furyk have seemed like contenders.

Both Perry and Weir have won three times in 2003, with Weir's Masters title giving him an edge. But with Woods having won five times and Vijay Singh and Davis Love III four each, the only way Perry or Weir would have a shot is to run the table and win both the Chrysler Championship and Tour Championship.

Furyk, with two wins, probably is out of the running, particularly since he, like Woods, is not playing the Chrysler.

Love and Singh have the most to gain this week, particularly Singh, who could wrap up the money title by winning the Chrysler.

Another win also would advance Singh's prospects for player of the year. Two wins and he could pack the Jack Nicklaus Trophy off to Fiji.

But the same is true for Love should he win both weeks, or maybe even just one week, if it's the Tour Championship. There's really no room for argument in saying that Love's four wins -- the Players Championship, the MCI Heritage, the AT&T at Pebble Beach and the International -- trump Singh's four -- Phoenix Open, Byron Nelson, John Deere and Funai Classic.

Overall, Singh has had a better season and is the hottest player on Tour now, with two wins, a tie for second, a fourth and two ties for sixth in his last six tournaments. Being hot at the end of the season counts for more than being hot at the start, at least as far as Player of the Year.

As for Woods, it could be argued that he could win the player award based on what he's done already: five victories, including two in World Golf Championship events. Should he win the Tour Championship, Woods would probably win the player award.

Should Singh win the Chrysler, then the money race is over, no matter what happens next week. Should Love win, he further muddies the water for Player of the Year. Even if neither wins, millions of golf fans will have watched this top-notch field go at it for four days.

And there's always the intrigue of the top 125 battle.

Whoever wins this week, the Chrysler Championship is likely to emerge the big winner.

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