The Sports Xchange's 2013 PGA Tour FINAL RANKINGS, selected by TSX Golf Staff, based on 2012-2013 performance.
1. Tiger Woods, United States -- Woods started the week leading the FedEx Cup standings and in position to win the season-long chase for the third time, but he got off to a horrendous start in the Tour Championship when he didn't make a birdie while opening with a 3-over-par 73. He was inconsistent the rest of the weekend and wound up in a tie for 22nd, which dropped him to second in the final standings behind Henrik Stenson. ... Captain Fred Couples has to hope that Woods can regain the consistency in his game when he shows up for the Presidents Cup next week at Muirfield Village, where he has won the Memorial five times. Tiger will be playing in the event for the eighth time and has a 20-14-1 record, including 5-2 in singles. He recorded the winning point for the Americans in 2011 at Royal Melbourne by beating Aaron Baddeley, 4 and 3. He also will be playing a head-to-head match with Rory McIlroy in late October at Mission Hills Country Club in Haikou, China, and he has two other events on his schedule, the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya, Turkey, in November, and the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in December. ... Woods played his best golf at East Lake when he was a flawless 5 under for 13 holes on Friday to jump into the top 10, but he imploded down the stretch with a double-bogey 6 on the 14th hole and a triple-bogey 7 at No. 17 after hitting into the water to finish at 71. He played the weekend in 69-67 but still was not really sharp, finishing last in the 30-man field in total driving and ball-striking while averaging 29.5 putts per round, including 34 on Thursday.
2. Adam Scott, Australia -- With a chance to take home the FedEx Cup and the $10 million prize with a victory in the Tour Championship, Scott started fast with 65-69 but was derailed by flu-like symptoms on the weekend and finished in a tie for 14th. He slipped one position to fourth in the final standings, easily beating his previous best of 16th in the season-long chase two years ago. ... Scott will be counted on heavily by captain Nick Price next week in the Presidents Cup because the International team has seven rookies on its roster. The Aussie has a 10-13-2 record in five appearances in the biennial matches, including 2-3 in singles. After that, he will play in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda in the middle of October. Then he'll make his triumphant return home to play for the first time since becoming the first Australian to win the Masters. Scotty has committed to play in all three of the major events Down Under in November, the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines in Queensland, the Australian Masters at Royal Melbourne and the Australian Open at Royal Sydney. ... Scott reeled off six birdies on the back nine Thursday at East Lake, three in a row through No. 12 and three more in succession through No. 16. He had seven birdies in all during the round but could manage only eight more the rest of the way while taking intravenous fluids when he wasn't on the course to keep himself going through 72 holes. Scott struggled through a 4-over-par 74 on Saturday, but he carded three birdies on the back nine while closing with a 69. He should be healthy for the Presidents Cup.
3. Phil Mickelson, United States -- Even though he was one spot out of the magic top five, Lefty had a decent chance to win the FedEx Cup if he could have earned his third title in the Tour Championship, but he didn't quite have his best stuff and finished in a tie for 12th at East Lake. He dropped one spot to ninth in the final standings, but he is the only player to finish in the top 15 in all seven seasons since the PGA Tour playoffs began in 2007. His best finish in the standings was second behind Tiger Woods in 2009. ... In the past, Mickelson usually folded up his tent after the PGA Championship, but golf has become such a year-round sport that it's almost impossible to do that these days and stay at the top of the game. He is playing next week in the Presidents Cup for the 10th time, entering with a 18-14-10 record, including 2-4-3 in singles, in the event. Lefty has played in more matches, 42, than anyone in the history of the Presidents Cup. He also has committed to play in the CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Malaysia in the last full week of October, and also the following week in the WGC-HSBC Champions, which he won in 2007 and 2009, at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai. ... Mickelson played his best golf at East Lake when he posted a 3-under-par 67 on Friday, carding three birdies in a span of four holes through No. 15. He put up four birdies in the first 11 holes of the final round but closed with seven consecutive pars to shoot 68. His ball-striking was good, as he ranked third in the field by hitting 56 of 72 greens in regulation, but he averaged 30.0 putts per round.
4. Matt Kuchar, United States -- Starting the week fifth in the FedEx Cup standings, Kuchar had a chance to win the season-long race with a victory in the Tour Championship, but he was never in the hunt after shooting 4-over-par 74 in the second round. He finished in a tie for 26th in the finale, beating only three players in the 30-man field, and slipped to sixth in the final standings. It was the fourth consecutive year that he wound up in the top 10, with his best finish being second behind Jim Furyk in 2010. ... Kooch will make his second appearance in the Presidents Cup next week at Muirfield Village, where he captured the Memorial Tournament earlier this season. He was 1-3-1 in his first appearance in the biennial matches two years ago at Royal Melbourne, where Retief Goosen beat him in singles, 1 up. Kuchar, who two years ago at Mission Hills Country Club in Haikou, China, teamed with Gary Woodland to give the United States its first victory in the World Cup of Golf since 1999, has committed to defend his title late in November. His teammate for the tournament at Royal Melbourne has yet to be selected, although Brandt Snedeker has been mentioned. ... Kuchar made only one birdie in the second round last week at East Lake, at No. 12, but he wasn't in bad shape until he carded three consecutive bogeys through the 17th hole. He posted 69s in the first and third rounds and seemed to be on his way to another sub-par round Sunday when he recorded bogeys on the 14th and 16th holes en route to a closing 71. His biggest problem was averaging 30.5 putts per round.
5. Justin Rose, England -- Starting the week with an outside chance to claim the FedEx Cup with a victory in the Tour Championship, Rose was on the edge of contention much of the way and wound up solo sixth in the finale. He dropped one spot to 10th in the final FedEx Cup standings, his third consecutive year in the top 10, with his best finish fifth in 2011. ... The Englishman has played in a combined 20 tournaments on both major tours this season, but he has plenty of golf left before the Christmas holidays. First up will be the Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda next week, and he also will be returning to the European Tour for the stretch run of the Race to Dubai, where he is third behind Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell in the point standings. Rose has committed to play in the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, part of the Final Series in the season-long chase, and will have to play in at least one more event to be eligible for the finale, the DP World Tour Championship-Dubai in the middle of November. ... The U.S. Open champion started with 68-68 last week at East Lake but was slowed by an even-par 70 in the rain Saturday. After carding a total of 10 birdies on the first two days, he managed only one in round three, which got him back to even par on the 17th hole. He struggled early in the final round with three bogeys on the first six holes but rallied with four birdies on the back nine to finish strong with a 67, his best score of the week, to earn his seventh top-10 finish of the season on the PGA Tour.
6. Henrik Stenson, Sweden -- The big Swede joined Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Rory McIlroy as the only players to win two events in the same season during the PGA Tour playoffs, and he walked off with the FedEx Cup, plus the $10 million prize, by winning the Tour Championship by three strokes over Steve Stricker and rookie Jordan Spieth. He was playing in the playoffs for only the third time and was making his first appearance in the finale at East Lake. ... Stenson will head back to the European Tour for the Race to Dubai and is leading the point standings, thanks to his strong play this year in the majors and in other European Tour events. He finished second in the Open Championship, was third in the PGA Championship, tied for third in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and tied for 10th in the BMW International Open in Germany. He has finished out of the top 25 in only two of his 13 Euro Tour events this season. Stenson is going to play in WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai at the beginning of November and he has to play in at least one more event in the Euro Tour's four-event Final Series to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship-Dubai, where the Race to Dubai title will be determined. ... Stenson, who earlier captured the Deutsche Bank Championship, took charge at East Lake from the start with a 6-under-par 64, the first of his four rounds in the 60s, and led virtually wire to wire. Anybody paying attention would have seem him coming, because he posted top-three finishes in his last three events, two majors and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, right before the start of the playoffs.
7. Brandt Snedeker, United States -- After becoming the first FedEx Cup champion to make it back to the Tour Championship the following year, Snedeker virtually took took himself out of the running when he shot 5-over-par 75 in the second round. He played well the other three days, but all it got him was a tie for seventh, and he slipped two spots to 12th in the final standings, the best ever for a defending FedEx Cup champion. ... Snedeker has played in 23 events on the PGA Tour despite a chronic rib problem and will be making his first appearance in the Presidents Cup next week at Muirfield Village, where he missed the cut in the Memorial Tournament earlier this year by shooting 80 in round two. In his first team event as a pro, he was 1-2 in the Ryder Cup last year at Medinah, including a 5-and-3 loss to Paul Lawrie of Scotland in singles. Sneds has committed to play in the CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Malaysia in late November, and the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai the following week. He also has been mentioned as a possible teammate for Matt Kuchar on the U.S. team for the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne. ... After opening with a 69 last week at East Lake, Snedeker scattered seven bogeys across his scorecard in the second round and slid near the bottom of the 30-man field. He played the weekend in 67-68 and hopes to carry that momentum to the Presidents Cup. His ball-striking was off, as he hit only 24 of 56 fairways and 45 of 72 greens to rank near the bottom of the field in both categories.
8. Jason Dufner, United States -- The PGA champion was dead last in the 30-man field through 36 holes, but he played the weekend in 66-65 to wind up in a tie for 10th in the Tour Championship. His fifth top-10 finish of the season lifted him one position to 19th in the final FedEx Cup standings, not as good as his 11th-place finish in 2009 or his 14th-place result last year. ... Duf will be playing in the Presidents Cup for the first time next week at Muirfield Village, but last year he posted a 3-1 record as a Ryder Cup rookie at Medinah, including one of only three United States victories in Sunday singles, 2 up over Peter Hanson of Sweden. The PGA champion also will play in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf the following week in Bermuda, and he has committed to the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai in the first week of November. Last year, he finished second, two strokes behind Ian Poulter, when the WGC event was played at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, China. This year, it's part of the PGA Tour 2013-14 schedule, so FedEx Cup points will be awarded. ... Dufner was 6 over par through the 10th hole of round two last week at East Lake, but he played his last 44 holes in a bogey-free 11 under and hopes to take that form to the Presidents Cup. After holing an eight-foot birdie putt on his first hole of the tournament, he drove into a bunker on the third hole, took three shots to reach the green and three-putted from 46 feet for a double-bogey 6. Duf carded five bogeys in the first round but had only three more, all in round two.
9. Steve Stricker, United States -- After saying for much of the season that he wasn't going to take part in the PGA Tour playoffs and would be elk hunting the week of the Tour Championship, Stricker was in the hunt almost until the end at East Lake. He played the weekend in 68-65 and tied for second in the finale, three shots behind Henrik Stenson. Strick rose three spots to third in the final FedEx Cup standings, his fourth top-10 finish in the year-long chase, including second to Tiger Woods in 2007. ... Stricker couldn't quite live up to his plan to play only 11 tournaments on the PGA Tour this season because he played so well, and when he found himself in the FedEx Cup race, he had to keep playing, although he did skip the first event of the PGA Tour playoffs, the Barclays. He also wanted to keep himself sharp for the Presidents Cup next week at Muirfield Village, where he captured the Memorial Tournament two years ago. Strick has played in the Presidents Cup four times previously, posting an 11-8 record, including 2-2 in singles, and he wants to make amends for a 0-4 mark in the Ryder Cup last year. He hates to travel, so don't expect to see him again this year, unless he plays in December in the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. ... Stricker's 1-over-par 71 in round two at East Lake proved to be costly. He started with consecutive bogeys, and after another bogey at No. 10, he drove into a greenside bunker and three-putted from 71 feet for a double-bogey 5 at No. 11. He made things interesting by holing a 23-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole in the final round, but he closed with three pars.
10. Luke Donald, England -- Donald could break the par of 70 only when he shot 67 in the third round of the Tour Championship, and he finished in a tie for 18th. Surprisingly, he gained one spot to 28th in the final FedEx Cup standings, but that was far off his three consecutive top-10 finishes in the season-long chase, including third in 2010 and 2011. ... Having scraped his way into the 30-man field for the Tour Championship at 29th, Luke gave himself one more chance to sharpen his game for his return to the stretch run in the Race to Dubai, a title he won in 2011 while becoming No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings. It's been such an off year for him that he is 52nd in the European Tour standings, and he must remain in the top 60 to qualify for the final, the DP World Tour Championship-Dubai in November. Donald has committed to the WGC-HSBC Champions as Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai and must play in at least one more event in the Euro Tour's Final Series to qualify for the finale in Dubai. ... After opening with 70-70 at East Lake, Donald reeled off three birdies in a span of five holes through No. 17, and five in all in his 67 in the third round. He might have broken 70 in the second and final rounds, too, if not for the sixth hole. Luke drove into the water both times and carded double-bogey 5s. He shot 70 on Friday and 71 on Sunday, also carding a bogey on the difficult par-3 18th hole each day. He ranked near the bottom of the field by hitting only 27 of 56 fairways and was last in the field in greens in regulation, hitting 42 of 72.
11. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland -- Rory will try to salvage something from what has been a year to forget when he returns to the European Tour and his title defense in the season-long Race to Dubai. He has plenty of work to do, sitting at 54th in the point standings, and he must remain in the top 60 to make it make back to the DP World Tour Championship-Dubai, which he won last year to wrap up the Race to Dubai title. ... After bowing out of the PGA Tour playoffs following round three, tying for 59th in the BMW Championship, it was thought he might join Ernie Els, who also missed the Tour Championship, this week in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. However, McIlroy is not in the field at St. Andrews. He has committed to play in the Kolon Korea Championship and the BMW Championship in Shanghai (which he won in 2011) in October, and the WGC-HSBC Championship, also in Shanghai, the first week of November. ... McIlroy rose to No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings by winning five times around the world last year, but he was down to No. 4 as of last week. His season started with a splashy press conference in Abu Dhabi announcing that he was switching to Nike equipment, but he has gone winless and finished in the top 10 only five times in 19 events this year. He missed the cut in that first event in Abu Dhabi and four other times, but the low point came when he walked off the course in disgust with his game midway through his second round in the Honda Classic. McIlroy is too good for this to continue much longer.
12. Zach Johnson, United States -- Another one of the players in the magic top five who could have captured the FedEx Cup with a victory in the Tour Championship, Johnson posted four rounds in the 60s, but all that got him was a tie for seventh, seven strokes behind winner Henrik Stenson. He dropped one spot to fifth in the final standings, better than his previous best of sixth in the season-long race in 2009. ... Zach holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole of the Deutsche Bank Championship to earn the 10th and final automatic spot on the United States team for the Presidents Cup, so next week he will be playing in the event for the third time. He has a 4-5 record in the matches, including 0-2 in singles. Johnson will play in at least one event, the McGladrey Classic, as the PGA Tour introduces its wrap-around 2013-14 schedule. McGladrey is one of his sponsors, and he lives not far from the course at Sea Island Resort in St. Simons, Ga., but the home cooking hasn't been so good to him the last two years. After tying for 12th in the inaugural event in 2010, he missed the cut in 2011 and tied for 48th last year. ... Johnson had the fewest bogeys in the field last week at East Lake, only four, and led with 58 pars, but only two players had fewer than his 10 birdies. He ranked among the leaders by hitting 37 of 56 fairways and 56 of 72 fairway, but did not putt up to his standards, averaging 30.3 putts per round, including 33 in the third round and 30 in the last.
13. Dustin Johnson, United States -- The last player to get into the 30-man field, DJ roared into contention in the Tour Championship by posting rounds of 68-68-67 to earn a spot in the final twosome with Henrik Stenson, although he started four strokes behind the Swede. He closed with a respectable 1-under-par 69, but one hole kept him from really putting pressure on Stenson. He finished solo fifth, five shots back. For what it's worth, that lifted him 17 spots to 13th in the final FedEx Cup standings after he finished in the top 10 each of the previous three seasons, including fourth in 2011. ... Johnson's inconsistent season cost him a chance to play in the Presidents Cup for the second time, having posted a 1-3-1 record two years ago at Royal Melbourne, including a 2-and-1 loss to Charl Schwartzel of South Africa in singles. It was something of an upset that he did not make the team, as he also was on the last two American teams for the Ryder Cup, recording a 4-3 record. Johnson has committed to play in the Perth International at Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Australia next month. He's become more of an international player in recent years, and he also could play in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China since a story on his website said he would play a few international events after the Tour Championship. ... Johnson carded five birdies on the back nine on Sunday at East Lake but lost any chance to catch Stenson when he hit his approach shot on No. 17 into a greenside bunker, needed four strokes to reach the green and three-putted from 56 feet to card a triple-bogey 7.
14. Bill Haas, United States -- The 2011 FedEx Cup champion had only an outside chance to claim the title last week, but he seemed headed for a top-10 finish in the Tour Championship before closing with a 4-over-par 74. He slid down the leader board to a tie for 24th and dropped six spots to 24th in the final standings, but it was better than missing the finale at East Lake last year. ... Haas will play for the United States team in the Presidents Cup for the second time next week, having posted a 1-3-1 record two years ago at Royal Melbourne, where Geoff Ogilvy beat him in singles, 2 up. His other team appearances came as an amateur, in the 2002 and 2003 Palmer Cups and the 2003 Walker Cup. Haas has not committed to any of the six tournaments that make up the start of the PGA Tour's new wrap-around schedule. The events start in two weeks with the Frys.com Classic and will have full FedEx Cup points available for the 2014 season. He has played 25 times on the PGA Tour this season and could make the trip to the WGC-HSBC Champions in China for the fourth consecutive year, with his best result solo 10th last year at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, China. ... Haas broke 70 last week at East Lake only when he shot 69-69 in the middle rounds after an opening 70, carding a total of 10 birdies over the first 54 holes. However, he could not make a single birdie in the final round, when he got into trouble early with three bogeys in the first eight holes. Haas struggled his with belly putter, averaging 30.5 putts per round, including 35 on Sunday.
15. Webb Simpson, United States -- Saving his best for last, Simpson closed with a 7-under-par 63, best score of the week at East Lake, and finished solo fourth in the Tour Championship. His fifth top-10 finish of the season lifted him 10 slots to 11th in the final FedEx Cup standings. His best season-long result was second behind Bill Haas two years ago, when he took the lead into the finale but shot 73 on Sunday and finished solo 22nd. ... Simpson will be part of the U.S. team in the Presidents Cup for the second time next at Muirfield Village, where he has missed the cut three of the last four years in the Memorial Tournament, although he did tie for seventh in 2011. He compiled a 3-2 record in the Presidents Cup two years ago at Royal Melbourne, where K.T. Kim of South Korea beat him in singles, 1 up. Webb also played on the U.S. team in the Ryder Cup for the first time last year and had a 2-2 record at Medinah, where European hero Ian Poulter beat him in singles, 2 up. He hasn't played in any of the lucrative events in Asia at the end of the PGA Tour season in the past, but he has teed it up in the McGladrey Classic twice, tying for 10th in 2010 and losing in a playoff to Ben Crane two years ago. He broke 70 in all eight of his rounds at Sea Island Resort, and he could play there again in November. ... Simpson started quickly in the final round at East Lake with birdies on his first two holes, then made three in a row through No. 16. He opened with a 68, which was marred by a double-bogey 6 on No. 7, where he drove into an unplayable lie and had to take a penalty stroke.
16. Jordan Spieth, United States -- Continuing his meteoric rise since leaving the University of Texas in the middle of his sophomore year in December with no status on any tour, Spieth closed with a 6-under-par 64 to tie for second in the Tour Championship. His ninth top-10 finish of the season on the PGA Tour lifted him six spots to seventh in the final FedEx Cup standings, the highest ever for a rookie, and he is a mortal lock to win the Rookie of Year award. ... Spieth played so well this season that Fred Couples made him one of his two captain's picks for the Presidents Cup next week at Muirfield Village, where he had one of his worst weeks in the Memorial, tying for 63rd after shooting 82 in the third round. Even more impressive, Couples picked him over Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson. Spieth has amateur experience in team play, having posting a 2-0-1 record in the 2011 Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen, where Great Britain and Ireland beat the U.S. 14-12. ... Spieth birdied the last three holes of the front nine on Sunday at East Lake, then carded four consecutive birdies through No. 16 before making a bogey on the next hole. He struggled to a 71 in the rain on Saturday, taking bogeys on three of his last five holes, or he might have really challenged winner Henrik Stenson down the stretch. The rookie led the field with 22 birdies, carding 11 of them over the first two rounds, but also making six bogies while starting with 68-67. Spieth led the field in strokes gained putting at 1.610 while averaging 28.0 putts per round.
17. Keegan Bradley, United States -- Trying to stay up with his friend and playing partner, Jason Dufner, in the final round of the Tour Championship, Bradley shot 3-under-par 67 and finished in a tie for 12th. He dropped two spots to 18th in the final FedEx Cup standings, but he bettered his previous best of 20th in the season-long chase, a mark he set in 2011. ... Keegan will be one of four rookies on the United States side for the 10th Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village, where he missed the cut twice in his three appearances in the Memorial Tournament before finishing in a tie for 50th earlier this year. He has not broken 70 in his eight rounds on Jack Nicklaus' course and is a cumulative 14 over par. Bradley played for the first time in the Ryder Cup last year at Medinah and posted a 3-1 record, losing only in his Sunday singles match to Rory McIlroy, 2 and 1. He has committed to play next month in the CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Malaysia, and the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club the following week, two of the six events on the 2013-14 wrap-around schedule that is a first for the PGA Tour. It will be his first start in both tournaments. ... Bradley couldn't match Dufner's 65 in the final round, but he did have the shot of the day in the twosome, holing his second shot from 170 yards for an eagle on the seventh hole and then going into a "Dufnering" pose on the fairway. He had his own 65 in the second round, when he carded consecutive birdies three times -- on the first and second holes, the ninth and 10th, and the 14th and 15th.
18. Hunter Mahan, United States -- Mahan never really got anything going in the Tour Championship and finished in a tie for 20th. He dropped five spots to 29th in the final FedEx Cup standings, in which his best finishes were seventh in 2010 and 2011. He could have taken home the title and the $10 million prize with a victory in '11, but he lost to Bill Haas on the third hole of a playoff. He is the only player who has teed it up in all 28 playoff events. ... Mahan will be making his fourth appearance for the United States in the Presidents Cup next week at Muirfield Village and has put up an 8-5-1 record in the competition, including 2-1 in singles. He was a standout for the Americans two years ago at Royal Melbourne, posting a 4-1 record that included a 5-and-3 trouncing of Jason Day in singles. Hunter did not make the U.S. team for the Ryder Cup last year at Medinah after a painful loss to Graeme McDowell in the deciding singles match two years earlier at Celtic Manor in Wales. If he makes a trip to Asia to play in one of the events that are part of the PGA Tour's 2013-14 schedule, it would figure to be the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, where he tied for 21st in 2010 and tied for seventh two years ago by finishing with scores of 67-69-67. ... If Mahan were looking for some momentum to carry him toward the Presidents Cup, he might have received it when he carded three birdies in a span of four holes through No. 15 to close with a 1-under 69 at East Lake. He also had a 69 in the second round, but it could have been better because he made a double-bogey 6 on the first hole.
19. Lee Westwood, England -- Westwood moved his family from England to Florida late last year in order to play the PGA Tour full time and perhaps improve his chances to claim the first major championship of his career with time seemingly running out at age 40. Being able to practice more often in the warmer weather improved his short game immensely, but he might have spent too much time on it because his ball-striking was not up to his standards. There are no plans to move back, and perhaps the change of location will pay off in the coming seasons. ... Having failed to make the 30-man field for the Tour Championship, in large measure because of a back injury at the BMW Championship, Westy will return to the European Tour for the Race to Dubai, which he won in its inaugural year, 2009. He might have teed it up this week in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews, where he has recorded six top-10 finishes including a victory in 2003, but his back was not yet ready. The Englishman ranks 13th in the Race to Dubai, and according to the schedule at leewestwood.com, he plans to play all four events in the Final Series -- the BMW Masters and the WGC-HSBC Champions, both in Shanghai, the Turkish Airlines Open and the DP World Tour Championship-Dubai, which he won in 2009. ... Westwood, after winning the Indonesian Masters and the Nordea Scandinavian Masters last year to give him 36 titles around the world, does not have a victory this season and is looking at the prospect of going winless for the first time since 2008. He has eight top-10 finishes and came closest to winning when he tied for third in the Open Championship.
T20. Ernie Els, South Africa -- The Big Easy has played 27 times this season, even though he fell short of the Tour Championship, but he has plenty of golf left. He is playing this week in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews for the 12th time. He has posted five top-10 finishes in the event, coming very close to winning it twice. He took the first-round lead in 2001 with a 7-under-par 65 and played the weekend in 68-68, but he could not keep up with Paul Lawrie of Scotland, who shot 63 on Sunday to beat Els by one stroke. He finished second again in 2003, when he played the last three rounds in 65-67-64 but lost to Lee Westwood by one stroke. ... Els is using the Dunhill as a warm-up for the Presidents Cup next week at Muirfield Village, where he won the 2004 Memorial Tournament. He will be making his eighth appearance for the International team and has compiled a 17-16-2 record, including 3-4 in singles. Ernie is a player whom captain Nick Price will look to for leadership because the Internationals have seven rookies on the roster, including Louis Oosthuizen, Richard Sterne and Branden Grace, all from South Africa. ... Els is the modern-day version of Gary Player, the most-traveled golfer in history, and he plans to play in the Venetian Macau Open for the first time later in October. He claimed his 66th victory around the globe earlier this year in the BMW International Open in Germany, his first title since winning the Open Championship last year. He probably will travel again to the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, where he finished second last year and in 2009.
T20. Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland -- Despite missing the Tour Championship, G-Mac enjoyed a big season, with three victories around the world. He beat Webb Simpson in a playoff at the RBC Heritage to claim his first PGA Tour victory since the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and he also won the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Bulgaria and the Alstom Open de France on the European Tour, which put him back in the top 10 in the World Golf Rankings for a while. ... McDowell is second behind Henrik Stenson in the European Tour's Race to Dubai, but he won't be able to take over the lead this week in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, in which he tied for third last year in his 10th appearance, because he is skipping the tournament to get married to Kristin Stape. He met the Florida native, an interior decorator, when he hired her to help him decorate his home in Lake Nona, Fla., outside Orlando. ... According to the schedule at graememcdowell.com, he will return for the first event of the Euro Tour's Final Series, the BMW Masters at the end of October, and also will play in the WGC-HSBC Champions the following week since both events will be played in Shanghai. He will try to win the Race to Dubai at the DP World Tour Championship-Dubai, where he popped the question to his bride-to-be last year. He also is expected to defend his title in December at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. G-Mac also won the tournament in 2010.
Others receiving consideration: Bubba Watson, United States; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Jason Day, Australia; Kevin Streelman, United States; D.A. Points, United States; Billy Horschel, United States; Boo Weekley, United States; Graham DeLaet, Canada; Jim Furyk, United States; Gary Woodland, United States; Sergio Garcia, Spain.