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This week in golf

Teeing Off

Five things to look for on the professional golf scene:

September 20, 2007|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

1 It's all over now except for calculating the compound interest in the bonus pool, but it's a safe bet that changes will be made for the second FedEx Cup.

Why? One reason is that Tiger Woods has suggested a few.

To begin with, there were 144 in the field at the Barclays, the first event in the playoff series, and that's more players in an elite playoff than there are exempt on the PGA Tour, so the number should be smaller.

Also, four straight weeks of playoffs? Contracts and television deals aren't going to make change in this setup come easily, but expect adjustments. And there is sentiment that the Barclays move from Westchester Country Club; some feeling about scheduling a week off in the middle of the playoffs; and debate about whether a player should be required to participate in all the playoff events to be eligible for the FedEx Cup. These will be the most discussed potential tweaks.

Then there's the $35 million in bonuses that was paid into the players' deferred retirement account. Woods and Phil Mickelson prefer cash, so it's probably a done deal.

Even as it was, Woods considered the series a success:

"I think that there needs to be some tweaks, but I think overall it provided a lot of drama toward the end of the season, especially post-PGA [Championship] when most of the guys shut it down."

2 Woods is going to put his clubs away for his longest break not related to an injury since he turned pro. After next week's Presidents Cup, the only tournament on Woods' schedule the rest of the year is his own Target World Challenge, an unofficial PGA Tour event, Dec. 13-16, at Sherwood Country Club.

That's a schedule consisting of one tournament over the last three months, and it also means that Woods is passing up an estimated $10 million in appearance fees by playing in neither the HSBC Champions in China nor the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan.

Of course, even when Woods isn't playing, he's making money. His $100-million endorsement deal with Gatorade should be finalized by the end of the year or early in 2008.

And one final note on Woods: Don't expect him to play his first PGA Tour event of 2008 until the Buick Invitational, Jan. 24-27, meaning that he'll probably skip the Mercedes Championships at Kapalua for the third consecutive year.

3 The PGA Tour and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews will announce today a drug-testing policy that will go into effect in 2008. Such a plan has been in the works for nearly two years and has been supported by Woods.

4 Michelle Wie is on campus at Stanford and getting ready for the first day of school Monday. She played nine holes Monday at the Stanford golf course and enrolled for school Tuesday, like the rest of the freshman class.

Wie, who dropped to 53rd in the rankings this week, turns 18 on Oct. 11, the first day of the Samsung World Championship at Bighorn.

5 It's recess for top players, but the so-called Fall Series, a seven-tournament race among have-nots trying to reach the top 125 on the money list, starts today.

And with $6 million in prize money, the first-year Turning Stone Resort Championship in Verona, N.Y., is nothing to sneeze at, and that's exactly what Steve Allen is thinking. He's 125th on the money list, with $568,059. Last year, Darren Clarke was 125th with $660,898, so you have to figure that No. 125 is going to be more than that this time.

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