Sports Outside the Beltway

Tiger Woods Skips Tour Championship

After a season that included eight wins, including the British Open, and the death of his father, Tiger Woods has decided he needs some down time and has withdrawn from the Tour Championship.

Tiger Woods is skipping the Tour Championship next week for the first time in his career, saying he is mentally and physically tired from a hectic stretch through the Ryder Cup. “I’m confident that this extended break will help me to recharge my batteries for the 2007 season,” Woods said on his Web site.

Woods’ decision is a huge blow to the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake, the PGA Tour’s version of an All-Star game for the top 30 players on its money list. Masters champion Phil Mickelson previously has said he is done playing for the year, and with Stephen Ames out with a back injury, the 27-man field will be the smallest since the Tour Championship began in 1987.

It also raised questions about whether players will buy into the tour’s new FedExCup competition that begins next year. Under a revamped schedule that features a points race throughout the season, players will be expected to compete in three straight events leading to the Tour Championship if they want to capture the $10 million prize.

Woods, one of the strongest voices behind the change to a shorter season, made it clear that he is eager to take part in the FedExCup. “I want to stress to everyone that missing the Tour Championship for the first time in my pro career is in no way a reflection of my feelings toward the event,” Woods said. “I am extremely excited to compete in next year’s FedExCup and inaugural PGA Tour playoffs, including the Tour Championship.”

I’m sure Tiger would play this year, too, had he not gone through the trauma of losing his dad. Of course, if the Tour Championship were considered a Major, he’d be there this year.

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