Graeme McDowell has enough on his plate trying to survive another week in the FedEx Cup play-offs without thinking about the end of November.
Nevertheless, if he could get hold of Tiger Woods he’d tell him directly that he won’t be defending the Chervon World Challenge title he stole from under the host’s nose at Sherwood Country Club last year.
Defending the title he would in such dramatic fashion at the end of the best season of his career would require McDowell to fly from the World Cup in China to LA (6,500 miles) and then back to Dubai (8,300 miles) for the Dubai World Championship in the space of eight days.
Not even the toughest of the tough could handle that kind of jetlag and McDowell has no intention of trying as he bids to get his 2012 Ryder Cup campaign off to a flying start.
Set to play both tours again next year, the 32-year old would love the chance to take on Woods again (if the American remains inside the world’s top 50 and qualifies for the December 1-4 event). He’s more likely now to playing the clashing UBS Hong Kong Open, which is a relatively short hop from China and Dubai.
“I don’t see how I can do it, unless he wants to send me a jet,” McDowell told CBS Sports’ Steve Elling on the eve of the second FedEx Cup play-off event in Boston.
“The schedule is just so compressed this year,” McDowell said. “Dubai, it’s just too important a week for us. I am trying to play both tours. But with a Ryder Cup year coming, it’s too important. I have to be ready to play when I get there.”
The Chevron event, while unofficial, was one of four titles McDowell won in his transcendent 2010 season, including the U.S. Open.
The Dubai event has a $7.5 million purse, the richest European Tour event of the year. McDowell is 33rd in the Race to Dubai standings, otherwise known as the money list. To make the 2012 Ryder Cup team as an automatic pick, he needs to pick up as much in earnings as possible.
“I would love to play,” he said. “It’s not so much the week of Tiger’s event that I am worrying about — it’s the week after [Dubai].”
As for Woods, he fell to No. 38 in the world ranking this week, and if he falls out of the top 50 while idle over the next three weeks, he won’t be eligible to play.
Only the top-70 players in the FedEx Cup points standings after this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship progress to next week’s BMW CHampionship at Cog Hill in Chicago.
McDowell moved from 93rd to 84th last week and could need a top 20 finish in Boston to be sure of making it to the third play-off event.
Padraig Harrington, who will be teeing it up for the first time since he turned 40 on Wednesday, climbed from 124th to 80th thanks to his performance in The Barclays but now needs another good week to stay alive.
Like McDowell, he’ll be gunning for a win that would give him a chance of overall victory in the FedEx Cup but like his fellow Irishman, he knows he has little room for manoeuvre.