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Mark Calcavecchia set for PODS Championship defence

The USPGA Tour's Florida swing continues in Palm Harbor, Florida, on Thursday where American Mark Calcavecchia seeks to defend his title at the PODS Championship.

Calcavecchia will be looking to become the first repeat winner at this event in its history. But he will have to overcome South Africa's Ernie Els, among others at the 5.3 million event at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club.

Calcavecchia used improved putting to win last year's event.

"The first day I hit the first 16 greens in a row and was even and then finished triple-bogey, bogey, 36 putts or something, and that's when I had the bags packed," Calcavecchia said.

"But I was hitting it well. I knew I was hitting it good.

"I hit it good the week before at (The Honda Classic) and shot 78-71 or something, nine-over, and had about 35 or 36 putts every day.

"All of a sudden I switched putters, kept hitting it good. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, but then I just made everything I looked at."

Calcavecchia posted a disappointing tie for fourth at last week's Honda Classic.

Calcavecchia had a share of the lead with eventual winner Els before a wayward tee shot into a greenside bunker at the par-three 15th, led to a double-bogey.

Calcavecchia had the dubious honour of opening last year's tournament with a four-over 75.

He rebounded with a 62 in the third round and eventually edged Australian John Senden and Heath Slocum by one shot.

"It's a good achievement. You know, winning a tournament on the PGA Tour is a very hard thing to do for most mortals, and being an older guy … not exactly in the greatest shape … it's good to win and nice to know we can still do it," said the 47-year old Calcavecchia.

Els's victory last week at the Honda Classic was his first on the USPGA Tour in over three years.

South African Retief Goosen, Steve Stricker, John Daly, Canadian Stephen Ames, England's Paul Casey and US Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger are also in the field.

Fred Couples will make his first start since being named 2009 US Presidents Cup captain. Only once before has he competed in the PODS Championship, tying for 14th in the inaugural edition in 2000.


March 6, 2008

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