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John Daly looking to continue good form in Las Vegas

Gambling golf fans will be putting their chips on John Daly to bounce back from his crushing playoff loss to Tiger Woods last Sunday with a victory at the Las Vegas championships this weekend.

One of the sport's most popular players, Daly is sure to have even more fans in his corner when he tees off in the Nevada desert on Thursday after missing a routine three-foot putt on the second playoff hole at the WGC American Express championships to gift Woods the title.

Bouncing back, however, is nothing new for Daly, who has had far more downs than ups in a career that includes two major championships.

Daly arrives at the event played over two courses -- the TPC at Summerlin and the TPC at the Canyons -- with the added incentive of chasing a spot in next month's season-ending Tour Championship without having Woods to contend with.

In order to secure an invitation, Daly may well have to hit the jackpot at the $4 million Vegas event to nail down his spot in the elite field limited to the PGA Tour's top 30 money winners.

With his runner-up finish in San Francisco, Daly climbed to 37 on the earnings table with just over $1.7 million, not far behind American Zach Johnson who currently occupies the 30th position with $1.79 million.

While Daly looks to land a season-ending bonus, for many in the Las Vegas field, survival will be foremost on their minds as they look to move up the money ladder and into a top-125 position that would secure a Tour card for next season.

Rocco Mediate, who withdrew from his last start because of a back injury, sits at number 126 and will return to action to test his luck in Las Vegas.

That finely-honed survival instinct has produced some surprise winners, Australia's Andre Stolz claiming his first career victory last year while New Zealander Phil Tataurangi lifted his maiden title in 2002.

Las Vegas, however, has also seen its share of big-name champions, chief among them former-U.S. Open winner Jim Furyk, who has claimed three of his nine career titles -- including his first career title in 1995 -- at the U.S. gambling mecca.

Since his first visit in 1994, Furyk has only missed one cut and finished 22nd or better in his other seven starts, including a tie for 11th last year.

World number one Woods also claimed his first career victory in Las Vegas in 1996 and returned to defend his title in 1997 but has not played the event since.

"Tiger has played here twice and that's more than he has played in some other events," tournament director Charlie Baron told the Las Vegas Sun.

With Woods and world number two Vijay Singh taking the week off, number three Phil Mickelson will be the highest ranked player in the field.

Mickelson, number three on the money list with close to $6 million, is under no pressure this week but has displayed disappointing form since becoming U.S. PGA champion in August.

The left-hander has played just three events since winning his second major, placing 28th, 29th and 51st.

The tournament has produced some of the lowest scores on the PGA Tour, highlighted by Chip Beck's 59 in 1991.

October 12, 2005

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