- Associated Press - Monday, September 13, 2010

LEMONT, ILL. (AP) - Leave it to the PGA Tour to find the upside of Tiger Woods missing out on the Tour Championship.

In a press release Monday promoting the 30-man field at East Lake, it notes that Woods‘ failure to qualify for the last playoff event guarantees there will be a new FedEx Cup champion this year.

Phil Mickelson said it “absolutely” will be strange not having the world’s No. 1 player at the Tour Championship, although it’s nothing new. Woods has only played East Lake twice in the past five years, skipping in 2006 after a long year coping with his father’s death and in 2008 when he was recovering from knee surgery.

The difference, of course, is that Woods couldn’t play the Tour Championship even if he wanted. He needed to shoot 65 in the final round of the BMW Championship, and it took him until the 17th hole just to get under par for the final round, and the tournament.

In an explanation he offered three times Sunday _ to NBC Sports, XM Radio and the rest of the media _ he blamed only himself.

“I didn’t play well in the beginning of the year and I didn’t play well in the middle of the year,” he said.

He said he is starting to play well now, but that only shows how far he had fallen. Woods tied 12th at The Barclays, tied for 11th at the Deutsche Bank Championship and tied for 15th at the BMW Championship.

Three straight weeks out of the top 10 used to be called a slump.

Now it’s called progress?

But there are other examples of Woods‘ weird year on the golf course.

He has gone seven consecutive tournaments out of the top 10, the longest stretch of his career. His previous worst was five straight tournaments out of the top 10. That was in 2001, between victories at the Memorial and Firestone.

And to get an idea of how he is playing, just look at when he is playing.

Woods is typically among the last to arrive because he is in or close to the lead so often. This year, he has teed off before noon in the final round at eight of his 12 tournaments.

The exceptions were the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. The other tournament was Quail Hollow, where he didn’t make it to the final round after missing the cut with the highest 36-hole score of his career.

As he walked down the eighth hole at Firestone on Sunday, Woods could look to his left at the back nine that was empty. That’s never happened before. Then again, he’s never been the second group off on Sunday.

Story Continues →