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Players fighting for jobs at Fall Series

The golf season is complete, but it's not. A four-week grind through the FedEx Cup playoffs is over, but a seven-week grind is about to begin. The PGA Tour awarded its biggest prizes of the year on Sunday at the Tour Championship, but it still has plenty more to dole out.

Don't feel bad if you are having a hard time grasping the concept of meaningful competition still ahead when all we've been hearing for most of the year is that it would be over last Sunday at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

Yes, the FedEx Cup portion of the schedule is done ... which simply means there are still seven events to go as part of the tour's Fall Series. Huh?

Well, there are still jobs to be earned for the 2008 season. And exemptions to be gained. And maybe a few chances for those with nothing to play for to secure some Christmas money.

The season champion has been crowned for the year -- Tiger Woods, the FedEx Cup winner -- so think of this as all of the teams who do not make baseball's playoffs returning immediately after the World Series to continue their seasons and battle it out for third place in their division.

The Fall Series begins with this week's Turning Stone Resort Championship in upstate New York and concludes the first week of November with the Children's Miracle Network Classic, formerly the Disney tournament. And we're not talking tip money, here. This week's event has a $6 million purse -- more than many during the main portion of the schedule. The other Fall Series events are in the $4.5 million range.

Two players who competed in the Tour Championship -- Robert Allenby and John Rollins -- are teeing it up this week.

"The FedEx Cup is the FedEx Cup, but there's also the money list,'' said Allenby, who played in all four playoff events and will be teeing it up for the fifth week in a row. He is 26th on the money list, the second-highest in the field. "All my contracts are tied into the money list for bonuses, so the FedEx Cup, apart from winning it, means nothing to me.''

Rollins, who won the tournament last year at Turning Stone when it was called the B.C. Open and was played opposite the British Open, sees opportunity.

"I've obviously had a good year moneywise,'' said Rollins, who is 22nd with more than $2.4 million. "I'm not trying to keep my card for next year or anything like that. But if you win ... you tack on another million dollars on top of what you've already got, it goes from being a really good year to all of a sudden a great year.

"There are other guys who maybe haven't played that well. A guy comes in and has a big tournament this week, it can go a long ways to getting him into that top 125 to keep his job next year. So having this much money up for grabs at this stage of the year is huge for a lot of players.''

And that, in essence, is what these final seven tournaments are about.

When the PGA Tour sought to dramatically change its schedule with a season-long points format that would shorten the season, it also heard plenty from the so-called "rank and file'' players who were concerned about diminished playing opportunities.

In the past seven weeks, there have been four playoff events including three with reduced fields, a major championship and a World Golf Championship event. Many players are not eligible for the majors or the world events, diminishing their opportunities to keep their playing privileges.

So this is mostly about players who did not fulfill their goals for the season. All but six players who rank 120th to 180th on the PGA Tour money list are in the field. And one or two good weeks could change their outlook. Veterans such as Bob Tway (No. 141 on the money list), Glen Day (148) and Robert Gamez (168) are just a few of those with plenty of work to do in the next seven weeks.

A victory brings a player a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. While it does not assure an automatic place in next year's Masters, those who finish among the top 30 on the money list get invited to Augusta National. And the money list -- not the FedEx Cup point list -- is still in play. The top 30 on the money list also get invited to the U.S. Open while the top 20 get a British Open invite. And the top 70 earn spots in the invitationals such as the Arnold Palmer, Memorial and Colonial.

Others might have more modest goals. Bill Haas is 126th on the money list. One good week could get him safely within the top 125. Then, perhaps, he can alter his ambitions.

Only Phil Mickelson can catch Woods on the money list, but he is expected to play just one Fall Series event (the Fry's Electronics Open in Scottsdale, Ariz.). You won't see Woods, who is taking off after next week's Presidents Cup until December. But it would be stunning if Vijay Singh didn't turn up a time or two.

How much these tournaments resonate with fans remains to be seen. The whole idea of shortening the main portion of the schedule was to avoid competing with football. So these events are geared more toward the hardcore golf fans -- all four rounds of each event will be shown on the Golf Channel -- and the local communities that embrace them.

Don't expect a major championship atmosphere at these events. But for many of the players who are fighting for their jobs, the pressure will be just the same.

Bob Harig is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.