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Zach Johnson hoping for more Georgia success

Phil Mickelson defended his title in the AT&T Classic last year. But he will not be back for a shot at a "three-peat."

Instead, Zach Johnson will look for continued success in Georgia when the $5.4 million tournament begins on Thursday at the TPC Sugarloaf.

Johnson won the AT&T Classic in 2004 for his first PGA title and finished second last year, albeit by a staggering 13 shots behind Mickelson.

But Johnson's biggest win in the Peach State came in the Masters at Augusta last month when he posted a two-stroke victory over Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen and Rory Sabbatini.

Ranked 15th in the world, Johnson has earned nearly $2 million this year.

Tiger Woods, Mickelson and Vijay Singh, the top three players in the FedExCup standings, are not entered.

Mickelson won the Players Championship last Sunday by two shots in just his third tournament since sacking longtime instructor Rick Smith to work solely with Butch Harmon.

Charles Howell III, who is fourth in the FedEx standings, is participating in the event and has earned more than $2.5 million this year.

Ranked 17th in the world after a torrid start, Howell III finished second twice in his first three events before finally breaking through with a win at the Nissan Open. However, last month, Howell tied for 30th at The Masters and then missed the cut at the Byron Nelson Classic.

The highest-ranked player in the world in the event is Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who picked up his first PGA Tour win in his first start as an official member of the tour at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. Ranked sixth in the world, Stenson also has a win on the European Tour this season at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Sabbatini is also in the field. He tied for second at the Masters and followed it up by finishing third at both the Byron Nelson and Wachovia Championships.

Players will be very aware of the TPC Sugarloaf's ninth hole. Last year, the par-4 tied for 18th on the Tour's toughest-holes list with 163 bogeys or worse.

The par-72 course is a 7,343-yard layout. The winner will receive $954,000.


May 17, 2007

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