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$2 million on the line for Doeden

With the once-in-a-lifetime chance to win $2 million playing golf next week, Andy Doeden is acting like he's prepping for a men's league scramble at Edgewood. Pressure? What pressure?...

With the once-in-a-lifetime chance to win $2 million playing golf next week, Andy Doeden is acting like he's prepping for a men's league scramble at Edgewood. Pressure? What pressure?

"I suppose I better start practicing, huh?" Doeden said Friday, when asked if he was ready for his big shot.

Doeden, the one-time Fargo whiz who recently decided to give up the pro's life for the 40-hours-a-week world, is one of 40 players slated to play in a made-for-TV creation called the Ultimate Game in Las Vegas. The winner's take is a cool $2 million.

This is money that could change a life, an amount that might make somebody rethink the best-laid future plans. Not that any of that has entered Doeden's mind.

"Honestly, I can't even fathom winning that much money. I haven't given a thought to what I'd do if I won," said Doeden, who lives in Forth Worth, Texas, and works for a Fargo-based company that administers employee health-insurance benefits. "I'd probably just park it in an account and wait awhile until we figured things out."

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The Ultimate Game is the brainchild of former NFL quarterback Steve Bartkowski, a low-handicap golfer. The tournament was conceived to give struggling pros a chance to win the biggest first-place check in golf. Phil Mickelson, by comparison, won $1.44 million for winning The Players Championship.

Bartkowski's original idea had players putting up $50,000 of their own money, but he concedes that hasn't happened. Most are backed by syndicates of friends or investors, and some received free passes into the event. Doeden is in the latter category. His name was drawn from a group that played on a Texas mini-tour in 2005.

Bartkowski said that won't detract from the drama.

"It's a good chance for these guys to see what they're made of, to see if they've got what it takes," Bartkowski said.

The format calls for match play Tuesday and Wednesday, which will pare the field to 12. The 10 players winning their first two matches will win $100,000 each. The two who make their way through a consolation bracket will win $50,000 apiece.

The finalists will play a 36-hole stroke play tournament June 7-8, with the winner walking away a millionaire. Fox Sports will televise the finals June 9-10.

Most of the field is made up of mini-tour players whom even the most ardent golf fans wouldn't recognize. Two names stand out: former big league pitcher Rick Rhoden and ex-NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver.

If Doeden seems under-whelmed by the entire affair, well, it's because he is. He's played perhaps a dozen rounds this year. His preparation for the tournament included playing 36 holes with family last weekend and another 18 on Saturday. There was a mid-week practice session.

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Remember, Doeden's a working stiff now.

"I'm not putting too much on the line here. I'm looking forward to it, and it's been fun talking with friends and family about it," Doeden said. "It'll be fun to get the competitive juices flowing again, but I'm really not expecting much to come of this."

Forum sports columnist Mike McFeely can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5580 or mmcfeely@forumcomm.com . McFeely's blog can be found at www.areavoices.com

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