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This week in golf

Teeing Off

September 13, 2007|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Five things to look for on the professional golf scene:

1. ATLANTA -- There's something different about Tiger Woods, and even he admits it. His swing doesn't merely look different, it is different, although Woods downplayed the change in a conversation Wednesday at East Lake Golf Club at the Tour Championship.

Woods said it may appear he is standing more upright when he swings, but he's actually just standing closer to the ball. He said he made the change in his stance after the British Open, where his "setup got a little quirky" playing in the wind at Carnoustie.

"I wouldn't say more upright, I'm standing a little bit closer to it, so I think that gives the appearance," he said. "I've always had a tendency, my mistake being my weight being set too much on my heels and not necessarily on the balls of my feet. And if I get my weight more toward the balls of my feet, it looks like I'm more upright."

Woods also said he has made many changes in his swing since 2000, when he won nine times, including the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.

And clearly the changes are working. Woods has won six times this year, including the PGA Championship.

2. While the FedEx Cup has drawn most of the attention this week, the Solheim Cup starts Friday in Sweden. The three-day event is the women's professional equivalent of the Ryder Cup, and the U.S. holds a 6-3 lead over Europe.

Betsy King is the U.S. captain and her European counterpart is Helen Alfredsson. For what it's worth, the three U.S. defeats were in Europe. Morgan Pressel, Cristie Kerr and Juli Inkster lead the U.S. team, which hopes that's a statistic instead of a trend.

3. Everybody knows by now that Rory Sabbatini is a world-class talker, especially when it comes to his critique of Woods. When Sabbatini was discussing the FedEx Cup, he said it should be mandatory to play all four of the playoff tournaments to be eligible to win the Cup and the $10-million deferred bonus.

Mickelson was candid when asked if he agreed with Sabbatini.

"No, not really," he said. "I think we've all learned to take what he says with a grain of salt. I mean, this is a guy that said Tiger is beatable. . . and he's won four of the last five events."

Meanwhile, there may be fallout from the news that Bearing Point, which Mickelson endorses, is becoming the title sponsor of the PGA Tour event at Riviera Country Club next year. If Mickelson can be expected to add Riviera to his schedule, it's probable that he's going to eliminate one event, and the early speculation is that he's going to skip the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

4. Money news: There are only 30 players at East Lake, and last place is worth $112,000, plus the FedEx Cup bonus. And the player who is in last place in the FedEx Cup points standings makes an additional $175,000.

5. Geographical news: Zach Johnson does not have a mathematical chance of winning the FedEx Cup, but he does have a crack at something else -- winning three times this year in Georgia. Johnson won the Masters in April and the AT&T Classic in May.

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A SLICE OF LIFE

Phil Mickelson, on the FedEx Cup system and playoffs:

'It's not four in a row that's a problem, it's not the four FedEx Cup tournaments in a row that's an issue. For me, it's 10 out of 13 weeks in a row . . . which is half of my schedule last year.'

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STAT OF THE WEEK

* Tiger Woods, above, leads the money list with more than $9.6 million, almost $4 million more than second-place Phil Mickelson. Woods, who has earned more than $74 million on the PGA Tour, has made at least $9 million three other times, including a personal best of $10.6 million in 2005. He will finish first on the money list for the eighth time.

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