Under new criteria soon to be announced by the Royal & Ancient, the British Open will exempt the top 30 players from the FedEx Cup standings and the top 30 from the European tour money list, which next year will be the Race to Dubai.
Previously, only the top 20 from both tours money lists were exempt from qualifying for the British Open.
That means Briny Baird, who finished 27th in the FedEx Cup, will be making his first trip to golfs oldest championship at Turnberry. Joining him will be Ken Duke, who has not played in the Open since 1997 at Royal Troon.
I think were recognizing that in America, the way the tour is set up now, and with the Race to Dubai coming on in Europe, its desirable to have all those players in the Open field, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said in a telephone interview Tuesday. It was recognizing new measures of performance.
Dawson was quick to point out that most of the players at East Lake would have qualified through other means, such as the world ranking or past performances in the British Open. Even so, it added another incentive during the PGA Tour Playoffs to get into the Tour Championship. The top 30 now are exempt for all majors but the PGA Championship.
To account for the extra exemptions, Dawson said the International Final Qualifying sites in the United States and Europe will offer fewer exemptions. There were 14 spots available in the U.S. site in Michigan this year, and 18 spots in the European site.
The number available next year will depend on how many players already are exempt for the British Open, and how many players sign up for those qualifying sites.
Were taking our pro players slightly more from their tour performance, he said.
The Chevron World Challenge that Tiger Woods hosts in December no longer will be just an anchor of the silly season. Starting in 2009, it will be part of the Official World Golf Ranking.
According to an official involved in the discussions, the world ranking board has approved Woods request that world ranking points be awarded at the Chevron World Challenge after this year. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because it has not been announced.
The Chevron World Challenge will be played Dec. 18-21 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Woods event already has a world-class field and a $5.75 million purse, larger than nearly two dozen events on the PGA Tour. To be considered for world ranking points, a tournament must have a criteria for eligibility and offer official prize money on a recognized tour.
The 16-man field consists of the defending champion, 11 players from the world ranking and four sponsor exemptions, which qualifies as a ranking event. But its prize money remains unofficial.
The ranking board approved the request with one stipulation. To receive ranking points, it must take 16 players off the world ranking with no exemptions. For a larger field, the exemptions must go to players among the top 50 in the world.
The official said Chevron plans to have an 18-man field in 2009 with two exemptions. In this years tournament, Fred Couples (an exemption) is the only player who is not in the top 50.
WORLD CUP SEARCH
Fresh off his first Ryder Cup appearance, Ben Curtis wants to play for his country again. Now all he needs is a partner willing to fly to China during Thanksgiving week.
Curtis has a chance to play in the World Cup after eight Americans ahead of him in the ranking turned down the offer.
He has asked Ryder Cup teammate Chad Campbell, but Campbell said he was leaning toward staying home to be with his wife and son, who was born earlier this month.
Curtis is trying to find a tournament to play in Asia after the World Cup to make the trip worth his while. He doesnt like the idea of going over a week early.
Thats the Michigan-Ohio State game, said Curtis, who grew up outside Columbus, Ohio.
Curtis has to pick someone in the top 100 of the world ranking. If no one goes, he would have to play with the first person available from the world ranking from No. 100 through No. 500. If he gives up his spot, the choice then goes to Boo Weekley, who played last year with Heath Slocum when they lost in a playoff to Scotland.
After Weekley, the spot goes to Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson, Sean OHair and Woody Austin.
The Americans have not won the World Cup since Tiger Woods and David Duval in 2000 when it was played in Argentina.
The only way Tiger Woods got involved at the Ryder Cup was through text messaging.
After the Americans won, Woods said one of the messages he received was from Jim Furyk, his partner at The K Club in 2006.
They were celebrating and Jim sent me just a great text saying that, I wish you were here because youve gone through the battles and youve gone through the big defeats, and it would have been nice to have you here to be a part of this, Woods said. It had been awhile since Ive been part of a winning Ryder Cup team.
Woods has played in five Ryder Cups, winning only in 1999 at Brookline.
Luke Donald was among those who committed to play in the Chevron World Challenge the third week of December, which will be his first competition since a wrist injury forced him to withdraw from the U.S. Open. Donald had surgery on his left wrist on Aug. 12. Jon Wagner, his agent at IMG, said Donald started putting last week and plans to start hitting balls in November. Annika Sorenstam will host an American Junior Golf Association tournament next year. The Annika Invitational will invite 60 girls from around the world and will be played Jan. 16-19 at Ginn Reunion Resort outside Orlando, Fla. Vijay Singh plans to take the next two months off because of tendinitis in his left forearm, meaning he will miss the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia and the HSBC Champions in China. He is expected to play in the Father-Son Challenge in early December.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and K.J. Choi are the only players to finish in the top 10 of the FedEx Cup standings each the first two years.
As often is said to me, I hope I look as good as you when Im your age.' Furman Bisher, 89, Atlanta Journal Constitution sports columnist, to Errie Ball, 97, who played in the first Masters Tournament.