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Woods, Els will pair in prime-time "Battle at the Bridges"

The world's top two golfers -- Tiger Woods and Ernie Els -- will team up together to take on the world's No. 3 and No. 8 players -- Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia -- in the "Lincoln Financial Battle at The Bridges," a one-round, two player best-ball duel to be televised in primetime, live, MONDAY, JULY 28 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT), on ABC Sports, it was announced by outgoing ABC Sports president Howard Katz. In Monday night sports tradition, the "Lincoln Financial Battle at The Bridges" will be televised live from The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe in California. It will be the fifth live network telecast of a golf event in primetime.

"After last summer's spectacular event, we weren't sure how we could top it," said Mr. Katz. "But I think this is it. I think, if you took a poll of the four PGA TOUR players that you'd most want to see in one foursome, it would be these four guys. Put them together on one of America's most picturesque golf courses in a team, match-play format, and I think we've got the makings of one great and entertaining night of primetime golf."

"We are excited to be in our fourth year as sponsor of the Lincoln Financial Battle at The Bridges and to welcome Tiger woods, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia," said Jon Boscia, chairman and CE, Lincoln Financial Group. "The Bridges is a spectacular venue, and we are honored to be associated with these outstanding golfers. We look forward to a competitive match."

"The best golfers in the world at a spectacular venue televised live on ABC in primetime. It doesn't get any better than that!," said Barry Frank, vice-chairman of Trans World International (TWI), part of, IMG, the sports management and marketing agency which helped put this event together.

Woods, 27, who underwent off-season arthroscopic surgery to his left knee in December, has started his 2003 campaign with two wins in his first three starts, capturing the Buick Invitational and the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Woods won his fourth straight PGA Player of the Year Award in 2002, his fifth in six years. He won the PGA TOUR money title for the fourth straight year, earning $6.9 million and increasing his leading all-time earnings total to over $33 million. Woods won the Masters and U.S. Open last year and now has eight majors to his credit in seven professional seasons -- 3 Masters, 2 U.S. Opens, 2 PGA Championships and 1 British Open.

The South African Els got off to a fast start in 2003, winning his first two PGA TOUR events -- the Mercedes Championships and the SONY Open. A winner of three majors (2 U.S. Opens and 1 British Open), 12 PGA TOUR events and 29 international tournaments, Els, at 33, has surpassed the $17 million mark in career earnings, ranking 5th all-time.

Mickelson, 32, a San Diego native, who will be playing on his home course, earned $4.3 million last year to finish second-best to Woods. It marked the third straight year he had surpassed the $4 million mark in earnings, and his career earnings total has surpassed the $22 million mark, making him the second all-time leading money winner on the PGA TOUR.

Garcia, 23, who hails from Spain, has played in the event twice previously, losing last year and beating Woods in 2000. He finished 12th last year in the PGA TOUR money race, with $2.4 million, and in just three-plus years on the tour has earned $7.1 million with three victories on the PGA TOUR and six international wins.

The one-round, match-play event has consistently been among golf's highest-rated telecasts. Woods won the inaugural primetime golf event, "Showdown at Sherwood," in August of 1999 on ABC Sports, beating David Duval, 2 and 1. In 2000 young Spanish sensation Sergio Garcia beat Woods, 1-up, to win the "Battle at Bighorn". In July of 2001, Woods teamed with Annika Sorenstam to defeat Duval and Karrie Webb on the 19th hole in an alternate-shot format. And last July Woods teamed with legend Jack Nicklaus to best Sergio Garcia and Lee Trevino, 3 and 2.

The winners of the "Lincoln Financial Battle at The Bridges" will split $1.2 million -- the runners-up will divide $500,000 from the $1.7 million purse. A total of $300,000 will be contributed to charity, with the players designating a portion of their winnings.

Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation (NYSE:LNC) and its affiliates. With headquarters in Philadelphia, Lincoln Financial Group has consolidated assets of $94 billion and annual consolidated revenues of $6.9 billion. Through its wealth accumulation and protection businesses, the company provides annuities, life insurance, 401(k) plans, 529 plans, managed accounts, mutual funds, institutional investment management and financial planning and advisory services.

The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe, a spectacular layout carved in a breathtaking canyon setting, will be the site for the Lincoln Financial Battle at The Bridges for the next three years. The par-71 Bridges championship course is the cornerstone of an exclusive estate-home community located 25 miles north of San Diego. It features dramatic terrain, deep canyons, meandering creeks, scenic lakes and pristine landscaping. The course, which opened in 1999, features five sets of tees that stretch the yardage from 5,061 to 6,955 yards.

The Bridges' signature 10th hole is a short par-four that requires a tee shot across a 100-foot-deep canyon. A stress-ribbon bridge stretches about 100 yards across a deep ravine connecting the tee area to the fairway. Another bridge connects the 11th hole. These are two of only three such structures in the United States. These two holes will be played as the first two holes of the competition, as the players will play the back-side first.

Founded by Mark McCormack in the early 1960s, IMG is the world's premier sports management and marketing agency with an international staff of almost 3,000, based in more than 100 offices in 34 countries. IMG owns, organizes, manages, produces for television, creates or represents an average of 11 major sports and cultural events around the world every day of the year. IMG also represents the interests of major corporations, is a literary agency and book packager, manager and presenter of world-renowned classical music artists through its IMG Artists, and its IMG Models is the number one ranked international modeling agency.



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