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Scott Verplank faces new challenges at Byron Nelson Championship

Scott Verplank will defend his only PGA title since 2001 starting Thursday at the Byron Nelson Championship, but the 43-year-old American will notice some major changes from last year.

The 6.4 million-dollar event at the renovated TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas course is named for the late five-time major champion who won 11 tournaments in a row in 1945, still the record win streak in tour history.

Alterations at the par-70 layout include lengthening the first two holes as well as the 15th, 16th and 17th holes. In addition to 200 extra yards, every green has been reshaped.

Past events have also been played over two courses but this year's quest for a 1.15 million-dollar top prize will be contained entirely on the TPC layout.

Verplank won the first Nelson event played after the death of its namesake, sinking birdies on three of the last five holes to capture his fifth career PGA victory, made sweeter by coming in the suburbs of his Dallas hometown.

Verplank, who edged England's Luke Donald by a stroke to claim the crown, had met nelson as a child and even played several rounds of golf with him before the legend's passing.

South African Trevor Immelman will play his first tournament as a major champion, making his first start since capturing the Masters title two weeks ago. Immelman finished second to Brett Wetterich in the 2006 Nelson tournament.

Donald will also try to improve upon a runner-up showing. His past 12 rounds in the event have all been below the par-70 mark.

April 23, 2008


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