- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

THOUSAND OAKS, CALIF. (AP) - One proposal that could make its way to the Official World Golf Ranking board is changing the criteria for the Mark H. McCormack Award, given to the player who has been No. 1 in the world for the most weeks during the year.

Tiger Woods is the only winner of the award since it began in 1998. He already has wrapped up the award this year. He was No. 1 at the start of 2010 and stayed there for 10 months.

The proposal, which is being discussed but has not been formalized, would be to give the award to the player who has accrued the most world ranking points during the year. If that were the case, it would come down to Martin Kaymer (346.326 points), Lee Westwood (340.207) and Luke Donald (317.675).

Players would be rewarded for performing best against the strongest fields, yet they also would not be affected by playing more tournaments because it would be about raw points, not average points.

Westwood is No. 1 in the world based on his play over two years, which is his reward.

As for Woods? The world ranking is as good of an indicator as any on how his year on the golf course has gone. Woods remains No. 2, mostly because of his performance in 2009 _ seven wins, still more than anyone over the past two years. Points gradually fall off each week, however, and Woods has lost more points (381.294) than any player has earned.

If the world ranking were based only on one year, Woods would be about No. 58.

And depending on how quickly he can turn his game around, he will continue to fall. It’s possible for Woods to fall as low as No. 4 by the end of the year. If he were to not earn any points, he would fall out of the top 10 around the Masters, and out of the top 20 by the U.S. Open. That’s unlikely, but it still shows that he is vulnerable to big drops next year.

Woods has said he is not driven by losing his No. 1 ranking _ winning takes care of that, and he hasn’t done that in more than a year. He also said he is not motivated by chatter that he’ll never win another major or dominate like he once did.

“That’s not why I play the game,” he said. “My dad has always been adamant, all throughout my childhood, ‘Only play the game of golf and go after what you want to go after, don’t let anyone else influence you, play from your heart and soul.’ That hasn’t changed. My goal is to win every tournament I tee it up in and be prepared for every event.”


LPGA FINALE: The LPGA Tour ends its season in Orlando, Fla., with its Tour Championship this week, with its three biggest awards _ the money title, Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average and player of the year _ still to be decided.

Na Yeon Choi leads the money list with $1,814,558, giving her a $34,790 lead over Jiyai Shin. With first place worth $225,000, they are the only two players who can win. Shin won the money title a year ago.

Choi leads the Vare Trophy with a scoring average of 69.77, giving her a .09 lead over Cristie Kerr.

Player of the year is based on points, and that award is wide open. Double major winner Yani Tseng leads with 188 points, giving her a nine-point lead over Ai Miyazato, whose five victories are the most on the LPGA Tour this year. Choi is in third place with 174 points, followed by Kerr (173) and Shin (170).

Winning the LPGA Tour Championship is worth 30 points.

Choi is the only player who can sweep the three awards. As a bonus, she also has a mathematical chance to go to No. 1 in the world.


AMERICAN DOWN UNDER: Until he closed with a 65 to finish fourth, Tiger Woods wasn’t even the low American at the Australian Masters. And there were only two of them.

The other was Jim Herman, making somewhat of a triumphant return.

Herman qualified by winning the Moonah Classic at the start of the year. More importantly, that was co-sanctioned as a Nationwide Tour event, and it helped him to finish 19th on the money list to earn his PGA Tour card for the first time.

Herman enjoyed it so much Down Under that he chose to return. Plus, it put him on the Australasian Tour’s money list.

“Once I got my status, I was definitely coming back,” said Herman, who finished 16th at Victoria. “They really make you feel welcome.”

It was a tune-up for his last big event.

Herman, who played at Cincinnati, said he was going to the final stage of Q-school to see if he could improve on his number for 2011. The higher a player finishes on the Nationwide money list or at Q-school helps him get into more tournaments early in the year.


CHARITY: PGA Tour events are starting to compile their charitable proceeds, with slight increases along the way.

“Overall, the tour is making a nice rebound this year,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “We had a record level in 2008, and it dropped down 13 percent. The final number is not in yet, but it will be very positive. We’re getting close to the level of ‘08.”

The Players Championship spent the last month doling out $4.8 million to local charities, bringing its contributions to nearly $40 million since 1977 when the tournament moved to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The Houston Open raised $2.145 million from this year’s tournament, up about $21,000 from a year ago. The Houston Golf Association has gone over $1 million in charity for 17 straight years and has donated more than $53.1 million since 1974.

The John Deere Classic raised $4.34 million for its local and regional charities, the fourth straight year it has gone over $4 million. The Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow raised $1.1 million, while the Frys.com Open awarded $800,000 to its charities.


DIVOTS: Chad Reynolds, the caddie for Nick Watney, was planning to work for Brett Waldman in the final stage of Q-school this week. That was until Martin Kaymer pulled out of the Chevron World Challenge was replaced by Watney. … Lost in the announcement of Europe raising its minimum number of tournaments to 13 for membership was the tour looking into gambling guidelines. Its tournament committee has instructed tour executives to “draw up firm guidelines and regulations related to any form of gambling on the European Tour.” … Nearly one-third of the 166 players at Q-school played in at least 10 tournaments on the Nationwide Tour this year. … British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen has signed a new endorsement deal with Ping.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Rickie Fowler started the year at No. 251 in the world ranking. Without winning, he is up to No. 25.


FINAL WORD: “Definitely both.” _ Tiger Woods, asked whether going a year without a win or being on Twitter was more surprising.

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