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Former Champions seeking Memphis boost

Defending champion Woody Austin and two-time champion David Toms are hoping a return to the St. Jude Classic that starts here Thursday will be just the boost they need.

Austin erased a four-shot final-round deficit last year at the TPC Southwind course, firing a closing eight-under 62 to win by five shots.

The victory was part of a breakthrough year for the American, who earned almost three million dollars and a place in the US Presidents Cup team.

Now Austin returns to Memphis in search of his first victory of the year. His best finish in 2008 has been a tie for fourth at the Zurich Classic.

Not only does he have happy memories of Southwind, but quite a few of the game's top players, Tiger Woods included, are taking the week off as they gear up for next week's US Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California.

That could also prove a boon for Toms, who battled an ailing back that saw him get off to slow start this season.

Toms missed the cut in three of his first five starts, but said his back "has been fine lately."

Toms said he wasn't sure just why he has been so successful in Memphis, and he's not too interested in trying to figure it out.

"I think if you start overanalyzing things, you get away from just going out there and playing golf," Toms said. "I have no idea why I've done well here, other than I just enjoy coming here to play."

A handful of well known players will take the opportunity for one last US Open tuneup, including world No. 10 Vijay Singh.

The Fijian will be making his first start since missing the cut at the Players Championship.

Spain's Sergio Garcia, winner of the Players, will seek to sharpen his game before heading to Torrey Pines, and Masters champion Trevor Immelman of South Africa will also try to regain some momentum after missing two cuts and tying for 30th since his triumph at Augusta.


June 5, 2008

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