There's rhyme, reason for pairings

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TURNBERRY, Scotland --- Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson made it clear that the groupings for the first two rounds of the British Open are not random.

For starters, the Rinterests; gallery movement and who plays fast (the speedy Mark Calcavecchia is in the first group).

RANKING CHANGE: Vijay Singh can now play as much as he wants without overly affecting his world ranking.

The Official World Golf Ranking board announced Wednesday that it will gradually change its formula starting next year, adding a maximum divisor of 52 tournaments so that players who prefer a full schedule will not be punished.

For most of the decade, Singh was the example most players cited when it came to the world ranking.

The formula is based on ranking points earned at each tournament, divided by the number of tournaments played. The value of points are gradually reduced every 13 weeks over a two-year period, with a minimum divisor of 40 tournaments.

That helped Tiger Woods , who doesn't play 40 times over a two-year period. It hurt players like Singh, who was playing as many as 60 tournaments during that period. Despite winning nine times in 2004, he didn't overtake Woods at No. 1 until late in the season.

The change is relatively simple.

The maximum divisor will be a player's most recent 52 tournaments -- no matter how many he has played in the two-year period. The board decided on that number because it is the average number of tournaments played by the top 200 players in the world.

The board also was concerned that players were skipping tournaments at key times in the year because a lower divisor might help their ranking when trying to qualify for World Golf Championships and some of the majors.

"The board believes this measure will encourage players to play more often," said Sir Michael Bonallack , chairman of the ranking board.

The formula will be changed gradually to avoid any massive shifts at one time.

The maximum divisor will be 60 in Jan-uary, then drop two tournaments ever six months until it is down to 52 tournaments in January 2012.

TURNBERRY TROUBLE: The British Open isn't held often at Turnberry, and when it is the Royal & Ancient takes a hit on ticket sales because the seaside links is a hard place for fans to get to.

Add in the global recession and things are doubly tough this year. Though Open officials say they expect more than the 114,000 who attended the Open when it was last held in Turnberry in 1994, the crowds won't be nearly as big as they have been in other locations in recent years.


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