TOUR Championship May Move for Ryder Cup

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo stood on opposite sides of the Ryder Cup, smiling for the cameras as they posed with one of the most revered trophies in golf.
 
With a quick tug, Azinger playfully pulled the cup away from his former rival and broadcasting partner.
 
The U.S. captain hopes it's not the last time he gets to pry the cup from Faldo's hands.
 
Under a revamped qualifying system for Americans, which will be weighted heavily on 2008 results, Azinger is confident he'll have the hottest U.S. players available when the Ryder Cup comes to retooled Valhalla next September, even if he's not sure who they are.
 
'There's going to be a lot of flipping and flopping next year, a lot of changeover and the list that you see right now, I don't think is necessarily indicative of what we're going to have,' Azinger said.
 
With good form might come fatigue.
 
Because of a scheduling conflict with NBC Sports, the Ryder Cup in 2008 is the only year in the PGA TOUR's television contract that there will not be an open week after the FedExCup ends with the TOUR Championship. That means some players could compete four straight weeks in the FedExCup, then head straight for Valhalla for perhaps the most draining week in golf.
 
The TOUR now is exploring the idea of a break in the FedExCup, and moving the TOUR Championship after the Ryder Cup.
 
One official involved in the discussions said he was '90 percent certain' it would happen. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because any change likely would have to be approved by the PGA TOUR policy board, which meets Nov. 12.
 
'We're looking at a lot of different options, all of which are designed to improve upon the successful foundation we laid with the inaugural year of the playoffs,' PGA TOUR spokesman Ty Votaw said Monday.
 
At the Presidents Cup last month, PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said there would be 'a lot of retooling' over the next five years of the TOUR's TV contract.
 
'We've got concerns by the players whether they're fresh for the cups,' Finchem said.
 
Azinger pointed out there were only a handful of European players in this year's TOUR Championship, while several top Americans were grinding it out for the fourth consecutive week.
 
'Schedule-wise, it would affect us more, there would be more chance for burnout or whatever,' Azinger said.
 
'We do have more players that would be asked to play more events in a row.'
 
The European team will likely be comprised of a mix of PGA and European Tour regulars, many who will have to make the trip across the Atlantic. The travel hasn't hurt the European team recently. The Euros have won two of the last three times the Ryder Cup was held on American soil, dominating in 2004 at Oakland Hills by a record 18 1/2 -9 1/2 margin.
 
'I'm conscious of that, the guys have come off a long season and we simply are going have to be conscious of that and we'll adapt to it,' Faldo said.
 
It's a lesson Faldo is quickly learning. He's already lost assistant captain Paul McGinley, who stepped down last month, and has yet to name a replacement.
 
Faldo offered a curt 'No' when asked if he had offered the job to anybody else.
 
Azinger chose Dave Stockton, Raymond Floyd and Olin Browne as assistants, saying he was not looking for a 'babysitter' but someone to share ideas and look over his shoulder.
 
Listening to Faldo cope with questions about whether assistants should be there to make sure Faldo doesn't make any mistakes, Azinger couldn't resist.
 
'He thought he made a mistake once, but he was mistaken,' Azinger said with a laugh.
 
So it went for much of the 40-minute press conference on Monday as the two traded barbs, if not insight, into how they'll handle the pressure of coaching in golf's most famous match play event.
 
They became friends while sharing a booth on ABC's golf telecasts, and Azinger can't help but marvel at the way the notoriously dour Faldo has become a TV darling with his candid nature and razor-sharp lines.
 
'Things have changed,' Azinger said. 'I never heard the guy complete a sentence in the 20 years I knew the guy. And now his voice activation system has switched on and we can't turn it off.'
 
Faldo said he doesn't expect to change his viewpoint next year, even if some of the guys he critiques in the booth will have to play for him later.
 
'I'm a how, what and why man, what's happening right in front of me,' Faldo said. 'We won't have any problems.'
 
If anything, he won't hesitate to speak his mind. He caused a stir at the Seve Trophy last month when he was critical of frequent Ryder Cup player Colin Montgomerie's absence from three team meetings.
 
Asked if there was any fallout from the incident, Faldo at first pretended not to hear the question, then quickly brushed it off with a quick 'no fallout.'
 
Kidding aside, Faldo spoke passionately about the Ryder Cup and the opportunity to provide a final mark in a rivalry he's helped shape.
 
'The Ryder Cup is the biggest event that we have,' he said. 'If I call a press conference about Nick Faldo Enterprises or whatever, I'd get 'X' number. If I called a press conference for Ryder Cup I'd get this. It just shows the interest we have, especially the last 20 years, it's on the media's mind almost every week.'
 
At which point Azinger jumped in.
 
'So the Ryder Cup is bigger than Nick Faldo Enterprises,' Azinger said to raucous laughter. 'That's huge.'
 
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