LEMONT, Ill. -- Somehow, we're guessing that he's watching.
Among the myriad subplots in the final round of the BMW Championship, which includes identifying the eventual winner, the cementing of the 20 automatic berths on the two Presidents Cup rosters, and who advances to the FedEx Cup series finale next week in Atlanta, is one that's just as juicy.
Tiger Woods is on the cusp of being deemed ineligible to play in his fall tournament, according to its own rules.
Woods at the moment sits at No. 46 in the world rankings. If he falls outside the top 50 when the new list is issued late Sunday night after play at Cog Hill is completed, he's technically ineligible to play in his own event, the Chevron World Challenge, on Dec. 1-4.
It could be very, very close.
Woods isn't playing in the four-event FedEx Cup series because he wasn't among the top 125 in seasonal points, which means he has been falling steadily in the world ranking. Moreover, his last victory on the PGA Tour was two years ago in the BMW event, so it's fallen off his two-year ranking window.
We'll spare you the various projections and permutations of what needs to happen today for the players lined up immediately behind Woods in the current world ranking, because it's an absurd pursuit to track what might happen -- each move by a certain player affects the points of another. But here is where the principles stand:
No. 47 Bill Haas, on the bubble for a Presidents Cup berth and highly motivated, is T3 at the BMW and surely going to move up in the world rankings if he holds his position through the final round.
No. 48 Sergio Garcia, despite claiming he doesn’t care if he advances to Atlanta next week, is T7 on the BMW board and is also looking at jumping Woods in the world ranking if he retains his current spot.
No. 49 Jonathan Byrd is T36 and is the one guy who could be Woods' salvation unless he mounts a rally today. Most projections, based on the assumption the players between Nos. 47-50 hold their third-round positions through Sunday's play, posit Woods at No. 49. Byrd appears to be the key at this point.
No. 50 Geoff Ogilvy, another player highly motivated because of his uncertain Presidents Cup status, is T3 and looking at a big jump on several points lists tonight.
Beyond that, world No. 47 Robert Allenby is T17 and No. 62 Mark Wilson is T7. Each could make a massive leap in the world ranking with a big final round.
So, if Woods get bounced from the top 50, what happens next? Chevron tournament officials would have to ask the PGA Tour Policy Board to rewrite the status of the event so that Woods could play. As a condition of receiving world ranking points, the two sponsor exemptions at Chevron can be awarded to those ranked in the top 50 when the Sept. 19 world rankings are issued.
The tour Policy Board could eliminate that provision, and quite likely would, if Chevron wants to add Woods to the field and he falls outside the top 50. It was unclear whether the OWGR would need to administer any sort of waiver so Woods could play.
The world ranking means little to TV viewers and ticketholders, of course. You can bet that Chevron wants the show pony on hand -- the company has twice been forced to stage the big-money event without Woods after signing on as a sponsor, including in 2009, when the sex scandal was at a full boil and Woods declined to play, citing injuries sustained a few days earlier in his curious, one-car crash outside his Florida home. The tournament took a huge hit as the scandal brewed.
It's not so much the minutiae of the rankings that's interesting here, but the fact that Woods has had such a spectacular fall through the rankings that's so compelling -- he started the season at No. 2 -- and that rules might need to be changed just to include him in his own, unofficial event.
Already this year, he didn’t play in the AT&T National or Deutsche Bank events, which help benefit his charity, because he was injured or ineligible. Greg McLaughlin, who runs both Woods' charity and the Chevron event, has not indicated how they would proceed if Woods fails to remain in the top 50.