Viking Classic can help PGA player’s year

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MADISON, MISS. (AP) - The $648,000 winner’s purse is just one of many reasons attracting 131 players to the Viking Classic.

For many players who will tee it up Thursday morning in the kickoff of the PGA Fall Series, a win _ or at least a big enough purse _ can mean the difference between another year on the tour and a return to Q-school.

For others, the Fall Series is a chance to continue working their way back from injuries, or the start of developing a playing rhythm they hope will carry over to the spring.

Trevor Immelman has already qualified for next season, but the former Master’s Champion is hoping the fall will help him fully recover from a wrist injury that plagued him the last third of 2008 and all of 2009.

He said he feels the injury is behind him and wants to use the tournament to “get going and just be ready for next year.”

Immelman, who has earned $9,901,755 during his five years on the tour, including $422,171 this year, said a big week at the Classic would be a large step toward his comeback.

“Look, I know my best stuff is good enough,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting out there and getting off to a good start and continuing to build on that momentum.”

He hopes to play in as many of the Fall Series tournaments as possible, but his wife is pregnant and the baby is due in seven weeks, so that could pull him home, he said.

“This year has really been a year of trying to get out of the bad habits that I got into playing injured,” Immelman said. “I feel like I’m sort of scratching away at that and starting to get better with every tournament I play.”

For some players, finishing big this week could be the difference between spending next year trying to get exemptions or hustling to tournaments when a last second spot opens up and being able to set their own schedule. That will be determined with a big showing this week and the following four weeks.

Among that group is John Daly, who tees off at 7:20 Thursday morning.

Daly has won $140,295 this year, making grabbing a big share of the $3.6 million purse important if he is to get back his PGA card, which he lost after the 2006 season.

The 2009 Viking Classic was canceled for the first time in the tournament’s 43-year history because of rain.

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