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Tiger Won't Get To Choose World Cup Partner
by Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Tiger Woods won't be able to choose his own partner if he decides to play in the World Cup for the fourth consecutive year.

The International Federation of PGA Tours recently changed the eligibility requirements for the World Cup so there would be uniform guidelines, and to help the World Golf Championships event get the best two players from every country.

The 24-team field is determined by the world rankings. Ernie Els and Retief Goosen of South Africa won last year in Japan and are automatically eligible as a team.

Under the new guidelines, players from the top 17 countries in the world ranking on Sept. 23 will be paired with the next highest player in the ranking. If the ranking stays the same, Phil Mickelson would have the first shot at going.

If Mickelson, or whoever else is the highest-ranked American behind Woods, does not play, the next American available in the rankings would be offered the spot.

The EMC World Cup is Dec. 12-15 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Woods said he has not decided whether he will play this year. He already is playing the Grand Slam of Golf, the Skins Game and his own Target World Challenge in the two weeks leading up to the World Cup.

In previous years, Woods was able to select his own teammate.

He and Mark O'Meara won the 1999 World Cup in Malaysia before it was part of the WGC series. Woods and David Duval, who was No. 2 at the time, won the World Cup in Argentina the next year, and he and Duval lost in a playoff a year ago.

Why the change?

"Each one of the [six] tours that had multiple countries couldn't come to grips with how to select teams," said Mike Bodney, senior vice president of championship management for the PGA Tour. "We wanted to standardize it for the entire world."

Bodney said the various criteria made it difficult to get the best two players from each country. For example, one tour sent the top player from the world ranking, and the leading player from its money list.

"For South Africa, that would have been Ernie Els and Darren Fichardt, when there might have been two or three more qualified players [besides Fichardt]," he said. "This was to ensure we could get the best players."

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