1 So we're into the second week of the FedEx Cup playoffs and once again we're talking about who's not playing. This week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, it's fourth-ranked Ernie Els, who is back home in Wentworth, England, and getting ready to take his kids to school. Packing lunch bags is a better use of time than the playoffs, he's telling us.
Last week, it was Tiger Woods who skipped the first playoff event, the Barclays, where Els tied for fourth and moved into the 10th spot in the playoff points list.
Woods, now in fourth place, is joining in the fun this week and also is expected to play the final two, the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship, where the top 30 in the points make up the field.
Jose Maria Olazabal, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman and Scott Verplank have also pulled out of the Deutsche Bank. Langer skipped the Barclays to play in the KLM Open with his 17-year-old son, and he committed to play the First Tee Open on the Champions Tour. He turned 50 Monday.
It's still early, but somebody's going to have to figure out how players can skip any part of something called a "playoff" and still have a chance to win.
2 Must-See TV? 1: Apparently, it's "The Natalie Gulbis Show," back for a third season on the Golf Channel, which reveals the intensely riveting details of what will be shown: "Follow Gulbis as she balances her professional career, personal life and business relationships throughout the 2007 season. . . including recuperating from her back injury."
2: Apparently not, it's Sunday's telecast of the Barclays, which had an overnight Nielsen rating of 2.1, or lower than the 3.5 for Sunday's Little League World Series final between Warner Robins, Ga., and Tokyo. The only thing that could have helped the Barclays is if Woods had shown up as the designated hitter.
3 Annika Sorenstam, who recently announced her engagement to her boyfriend of two years, Mike McGee, is back on the golf course to defend her 69th LPGA Tour title, at Springfield, Ill., in the LPGA State Farm Classic. Sorenstam hasn't won this year, but she's the top putter on tour, averaging 25.3 putts a round.
4 On the other side of the marriage coin, it appears that Greg Norman and his soon-to-be ex-wife, Laura, are getting closer to ending their 26-year union. Laura may be in line for a $250-million settlement, but Norman reportedly wants her to sign a confidentiality agreement so she won't dish on their relationship.
5 They're still working on it, but the 2008 PGA Tour schedule is shaping up for a West Coast swing that's in the same order as this year. There's one major traffic jam on the calendar -- the Super Bowl will be played Feb. 3 in suburban Phoenix, the same day the FBR Open wraps up in nearby Scottsdale.
Here are the prospective dates: Mercedes Championship, Jan. 3-6; Sony Open, Jan. 10-13; Bob Hope, Jan. 16-20; Buick Invitational, Jan. 24-27; FBR Open, Jan. 31-Feb. 3; AT&T Pebble Beach, Feb. 7-10; Nissan Open at Riviera, Feb. 14-17.