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October 06, 1998|LARRY STEWART

What: "Shell's Wonderful World of Golf"

Where: ESPN

When: Debut tonight at 6

This popular series, which was on television from 1962-71 and relaunched in 1994, has found a new home. The five matches that make up this year's schedule will be carried by ESPN. The first match, featuring Fred Couples against Ernie Els on the Nicklaus North Course in Whistler, Canada, will be shown tonight with subsequent matches on Wednesday nights at 6. Each show will be repeated the following Tuesday at 10 a.m.

The other matches include:

* Oct. 14--Phil Mickelson vs. Tom Lehman at Bay Harbor in Boyne Falls, Mich.

* Oct. 21--Davis Love III vs. Justin Leonard at Winged Foot East in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

* Oct. 28--Payne Stewart vs. Nick Price at Tierra del Sol in Aruba.

* Nov. 4--Jack Nicklaus vs. Gary Player at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla.

Legendary broadcaster Jack Whitaker serves as host of the series, with Bob Rosberg Jr., Judy Rankin and Peter Alliss handling the on-course reporting. The shows are produced by Santa Monica-based Jack Nicklaus Productions.

Each match follows a stroke-play format over 18 holes, with the winner receiving $100,000 and the runner-up $50,000. The money is divided evenly in the event of a tie.

The relaunching of the series was the brainstorm of Terry Jastrow, ABC's longtime Emmy Award-winning golf producer who is the president of Jack Nicklaus Productions. After producing the 1993 Shell Houston Open for ABC, Jastrow persuaded Shell to bring back the series.

There were 92 matches in the original series and there have been 23 in the new one.

Jastrow says this year's matches are closer than any others in the series and include one tie. For obvious reasons, Jastrow will not say who wins, but he does say Couples, a new Los Angeles resident following his recent marriage, played what he calls his best round of the year against Els.

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