Kroichick: Tiger needs to halt his fall

Sep 15 2011 - 4:13pm

Tiger Woods will miss this week's FedEx Cup playoff tournament, as he did the first two postseason events. This concept -- elite field, no Tiger -- might become a more common occurrence if Woods keeps falling in the world rankings.

He dropped to No. 46 this week, extending his steady slide over the past 10-plus months. His run of 281 consecutive weeks at No. 1, starting in June 2005, stretched more than five years before ending Oct. 31, 2010.

At this rate, Woods soon will tumble out of the top 50. That could make an impact on his customary schedule, because the top 50 players in the world rankings gain automatic entry into several prime tournaments -- including the majors and World Golf Championship events.

Woods still has a spot in next year's Masters (lifetime exemption as former champion) and U.S. Open (10-year exemption as 2008 winner). But he will need to get his game together if he wants to play in all of next year's marquee tournaments.

Woods' next scheduled start is the Frys.com Open, set for Oct. 6-9 in San Martin, Calif.. Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera was among the players to commit this week to competing at CordeValle.

SF NO EASY FIT: If the PGA Tour schedule is a giant jigsaw puzzle, think of San Francisco as the challenging, awkwardly shaped piece -- part of the puzzle, clearly, but with no easy-to-fit spot.

The tour's contract with the city, as we've reported, calls for the "penultimate playoff event" to be held at Harding Park in 2013 or '14 -- meaning the BMW Championship, which begins today outside Chicago. That tournament is scheduled to move to Crooked Stick (outside Indianapolis) next year and Cherry Hills (near Denver) in 2014.

So it's coming to Harding in '13, right? Not so fast.

The folks in Chicago also have an agreement by which their tournament cannot be held elsewhere for three consecutive years -- and the tour probably doesn't want to completely abandon the nation's third-largest market anyway. Word in Chicago is that the 2013 BMW probably will leave Cog Hill, a course widely despised by the players, but still take place in the area.

One high-ranking PGA Tour executive visited San Francisco last week to meet with city officials, hoping to resolve this self-made quandary. It's possible the BMW will come to Harding later, with the tour adding at least two more Schwab Cups to the local calendar.

The Champions Tour's season-ending event was held at Harding last year and will be played there again Nov. 3-6.

"We've had some really good conversations with the tour about how to schedule out the rest of the agreement," Rec & Park general manager Phil Ginsburg said Wednesday. "They've told us they fully intend to honor all agreements they have with us, and we're talking to them about perhaps offering more flexibility in when tournaments are scheduled in exchange for more golf."

Stay tuned. The tour is expected to sort out these issues in the next few weeks.

TEXAS-BOUND: Casie Cathrea, the Livermore teenager who won the California women's amateur championship and qualified for an LPGA event at age 13, made a verbal commitment to play at Texas.

No great shock there.

As you might recall, Cathrea is a longtime admirer of two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw. They first met when Cathrea, then all of 7 years old, attended a putting clinic Crenshaw and Dave Stockton held in Napa in 2002.

Cathrea's friendship with Crenshaw reached the point where they played together in the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in July. (They won the pro-junior competition.) Crenshaw, an Austin native and Texas alum, told Cathrea he would support her wherever she played in college, but he's probably elated with her choice.

"She's an amazing coach and she's building an amazing program," Cathrea said of Texas coach Martha Richards. "I hope to be the first to help her win a national championship."

Cathrea, who turns 16 in November, is a junior at Venture School, an independent study program in San Ramon, Calif.. She plans to graduate in December 2012 and enroll at Texas the next month.

TAP-INS: Webb Simpson and Dustin Johnson lead the points race heading into this week's PGA Tour playoff event. The top 30 players will advance to next week's Tour Championship in Atlanta. ... Thanks to the unexpected cancellation of its scheduled tournament in China later this month, the LPGA will stage its final, full-field event of 2011 starting today in Prattville, Ala.

(E-mail Ron Kroichick at rkroichick(at)sfchronicle.com.)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)

 

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