Ryder Cup throws a wrench in playoff schedule

ATLANTA -- Tiger Woods played so much golf during the FedEx Cup playoffs that he is laying off cardio work this week with hopes of putting on some weight he lost over the last month.

Just wait until next year, with a trip to Wales for the Ryder Cup right after the Tour Championship.

PGA Tour officials spent the last couple of weeks gathering input from players on the playoff schedule for next year, and it looks at though it has come down to two options:

- Keep the schedule the way it was this year. That would mean three playoff events (New York, Boston, Chicago), followed by a week off, then the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup.

- Take a week off after the Labor Day finish at Boston, then go three straight weeks concluding with the Ryder Cup.

"If television is accommodating, we could go either way," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.

A small sample of potential Ryder Cup players showed mixed opinions. Hunter Mahan would like to see the break after Boston, noting that the Ryder Cup doesn't start until Friday, anyway. Luke Donald of England said he was so wiped out after a third straight week of golf in Chicago that he put the clubs away for longer than usual.

"Any way you slice it, it's a difficult stretch," Steve Stricker said. "It's a long stretch, and you've got to be physically and mentally ready for it."

Woods said he was inclined to leave it the way it is for 2010, especially because of the overnight flight required to get to Wales. He believes the American team would not be fresh for the high level of intensity that accompanies the Ryder Cup.

"Granted, we could have the Europeans play in this thing and wear them out, too," he said.

Donald and Padraig Harrington were the only Europeans who reached the 30-man field at the Tour Championship this year, and both recommended a week off before the Tour Championship in Ryder Cup years, and a week off after the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston in other years.

The other component is television. NBC Sports televises the last three FedEx Cup events, and it also has Notre Dame home football games. The Irish are home against Michigan next year on Sept. 11, which would be the Saturday of the BMW Championship. The Irish are on the road the following week, when the tour typically takes its break.


REST OF THE SCHEDULE: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem doesn't expect too many changes to the regular season schedule next year, except for some musical chairs during the West Coast Swing, in part because of NBC Sports televising the Winter Olympics.

According to individual tournament Web sites, the season starts Jan. 7 with the SBS Championship at Kapalua, then goes to Honolulu, the Bob Hope Classic and San Diego. The Northern Trust Open at Riviera will be the same weekend as the Super Bowl, followed by Pebble Beach, the Match Play Championship and the FBR Open outside Phoenix wrapping up the West Coast.

Until it finds a sponsor, what was the Buick Invitational now is called the Century Club of San Diego Invitational.

The only tournament without a published date is Memphis, Tenn., which lost title sponsor Stanford Financial this year. Finchem said he expected the St. Jude Classic to be played in the same spot, one week before the U.S. Open.

"We're in reasonably good shape," he said. "We're still building the local coalition and related sponsorships, but indications are we're going to be fine in '10. That would be the plan."


TIGER'S FIELD: Tiger Woods is pleased with his field for the Chevron World Challenge, which he attributes to being moved to the first week of December (away from Christmas) and the tournament receiving official world ranking points for the first time.

Among those who have committed to play are 15 of the top 20 in the world, including Steve Stricker, Paul Casey, Kenny Perry, Padraig Harrington, Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh and Sean O'Hair. He has all the major champions except for Angel Cabrera, who has contracts in South Africa and is schedule to play the Nedbank Challenge.

By getting world ranking points, the tournament was forced to use its sponsor exemptions on players in the top 50. The exemptions went to Anthony Kim and Mike Weir.

The tournament will be held Dec. 3-6 and returns to Sherwood Country Club, where the bunkers have been refurbished.


LONG WAY TO THE BAY: Ernie Els is taking the long way from Atlanta to San Francisco for the Presidents Cup. He is playing this week at the Dunhill Championship in Scotland, the European Tour's version of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. It is played over three courses (St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Kings Barn). And it's a long way from California.

Els wouldn't think of missing it. He will play again this year with his father, Nils.

"That tournament has been so dear to myself and my dad," he said. "Except for last year, we made the cut until the fourth day every time. So it's a great time for me and my dad to be together at the home of golf."

Els turns 40 the weekend after the Presidents Cup, and says he has a harder time recovering from long flights. But travel has changed, and he has a plan.

"I'll give the Heinekens a week off," he said. "I've got a G-5. It flies straight in. I'll do a lot of sleeping, a lot of resting. It's just the time change, that's all."


DIVOTS: Jim Hyler has been nominated for a one-year term as USGA president. The election of officers and the USGA executive committee, typically a formality, will be Feb. 6 at the annual meeting in Pinehurst, N.C. ... Judy Rankin has been selected to receive the 2010 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. The award is for someone whose lifetime commitment to golf has helped shape the welfare of the game. She will receive the award Feb. 9 in San Diego. ... Fred Funk, Nick Price and Jay Haas will represent the Champions Tour in the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge to be played Nov. 10 at Rio Secco in Las Vegas. ... The Asian Amateur Championship will be televised by ESPN2 in the United States, with Peter Oosterhuis as the host. It will be held Oct. 29 through Nov. 1 at Mission Hills in China. The winner gets an exemption to the Masters.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods has been runner-up to Phil Mickelson five times, more than any other player.


FINAL WORD: "I won't say I'm sorry because the alternative is not that good." -- Arnold Palmer on turning 80 two weeks ago.