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Mickelson confirms return at Chrysler event

Reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson, one of golf's most popular players, officially has committed to Tampa Bay's Chrysler Championship, joining a field that could become one of the PGA Tour's strongest of the season.

Mickelson's promised appearance at Innisbrook Resort Oct. 28- 31 gives the tournament hope of attracting all four of the season's major championship winners and as many as four of the world's top five players.

British Open champ Todd Hamilton already has committed. According to tournament director Gerald Goodman, PGA winner Vijay Singh, the world's No. 1 player, has verbally promised to play, and U.S. Open champ Retief Goosen, the defending champ and the world's No. 5, also has indicated he expects to return, although neither has officially committed.

Also, Ernie Els, the world's No. 2, is an early commitment, along with No. 7 Mike Weir.

``Phil is one of the most popular golfers in the world, and we know that his many fans in the area will be delighted to see him in action,`` Goodman said. ``We expect some other top names to be added to the list in the next few weeks.``

Singh, with eight wins, has been the year's best player, but the fourth- ranked Mickelson is arguably the year's biggest newsmaker.

Not only did Mickelson win the first major championship of an otherwise stellar career, he also finished second to Goosen in the U.S. Open and was third at the British Open.

He is second on this year's PGA Tour money list with more than $5.6 million. He has two wins, two seconds, three thirds and 13 top-10 finishes.

``We have felt confident that he would be returning to the Chrysler Championship this year, but it always is good to see that name on the commitment list,`` Goodman said.

Another former Masters champ, two-time winner Jose Maria Olazabal, also has entered, along with Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson.

Jacobson, who won last year's European Tour Volvo Masters, will play at Innisbrook rather than defend that title. He has primarily competed on the PGA Tour this year, with five top-10 finishes.

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