Tiger Woods avoids fall in rankings

LEMONT, Ill. -- Tiger Woods did not qualify for the BMW Championship that concluded on Sunday, but he had reason to take interest in the final results as they pertained to his standing in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Despite not hitting a shot, Woods managed to cling to the 49th position, which saves him and the officials who run his tournament in December the uncomfortable task of asking for a change to the eligibility criteria for the Chevron World Challenge.

Surrounding Woods in the rankings are Ryo Ishikawa (47th), Sergio Garcia (48th) and Jonathan Byrd (50th). The ranking deadline for the tournament is Monday.

When the Chevron World Challenge started receiving world ranking points two years ago, a stipulation was that the two sponsor exemptions for the tournament be among the top 50 in the world.

The Chevron exempts the defending champion and four major winners regardless of ranking, and then goes off the highest available players in the rankings. Woods is going to require a sponsor exemption to his own event, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, and things might have been a bit sticky had he fallen out of the top 50.

Certainly the title sponsor and event officials want the game's top attraction to play, but the tournament would have been faced with requesting from the PGA Tour's policy board a change to the eligibility criteria and perhaps to the world ranking board a waiver to its policy to receive world ranking points. Without that, the tournament, in theory, could have still had Woods play and not awarded ranking points.

Making matters a bit dicey for Woods was the fact that players in the BMW field such as Geoff Ogilvy, Camilo Villegas, Ryan Moore, John Senden Garcia and Byrd had the chance to pass him -- although not all of them could mathematically.

Woods began the year ranked second in the world but has generally slid down the rankings as he has lost points from victories in 2009 and did not play for a long stretch due to injuries.

Woods has played just two tournaments since tying for fourth at the Masters. He is scheduled to play the Frys.com Open next month and then the Australian Open in November. He has already been named at-large pick by captain Fred Couples for the U.S. Presidents Cup team.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.