By DOUG FERGUSON
ATLANTA – Arron Oberholser tied for fourth at the PGA Championship to move from 44th to 29th in the world rankings. He moved up another seven spots when he tied for second in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
He thought that was a positive development, nothing more.
Only when Oberholser (pictured) got a phone call last week in Chicago did he realize the significance. And when five other Americans ranked ahead of him declined an invitation, Oberholser jumped at the chance to represent the United States in the World Cup.
“Are you kidding me? I got the call and was half in shock, to be honest with you,” Oberholser said Tuesday. “The correlation between the world ranking and the World Cup didn’t cross my mind. I wouldn’t pass up something like this.”
The first thing he did was call Sean O’Hair and ask him to be his teammate. It will be the first World Cup for both of them. It will be held at Mission Hills Golf Club in China on Nov. 22-25.
The Deutsche Bank Championship was the last event before the U.S. team was determined based on the world ranking. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Masters champion Zach Johnson all declined.
Oberholser and O’Hair have become friends over the last year.
“We really enjoy playing with one another,” Oberholser said. “I root for the kid very hard when I’m not playing. He’s got a lot of talent and his maturity level impresses me to an extent I can’t explain. To be 25 with two children and be so calm, cool and collected … I couldn’t find my rear end with a microscope when I was 25. He was on my short list of guys to take with me to China.”
Oberholser, meanwhile, had an MRI on his right hand Monday and found no breaks or tears. He said doctors assured him that with therapy, he’ll be ready to play Oct. 18 at the Fry’s Electronics Open in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The World Cup dates to 1953. The last U.S. victory was with Woods and David Duval in Argentina in 2000.
The only other time Oberholser played in Asia was 2004 at the Shinhan Korea Golf Championship, which he won.
“I’m hoping to go 2-0 in Asia,” he said.
NEW SPONSOR AT RIVIERA: For the first time in nearly two decades, the PGA Tour is getting a new title sponsor for Riviera.
While the final details are still being worked out, a tour official and tournament organizer said that Bearing Point will become the new title sponsor of what began in 1926 as the Los Angeles Open.
The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced.
Nissan was the presenting sponsor in 1987, and two years later became the title sponsor. The company last year moved its U.S. headquarters from southern California to Nashville, Tenn., which is one reason it wanted out of its contract with the PGA Tour. The contract was to expire in 2010.
Bearing Point, based in McLean, Va., provides management and technology consulting services worldwide. It had been a candidate to become title sponsor at the now-defunct International in Colorado, but did not think it was a good fit.
Until now, Bearing Point’s main involvement in golf has been an endorsement with Phil Mickelson, who wears the logo on his cap.
Still to be determined is what role Mickelson might have with Bearing Point at Riviera, although it likely will fall well short of Lefty serving as the official host. The only host in the 80-year history at Riviera was singer Glen Campbell.
Mickelson had gone six years without playing Riviera, but returned this year and had a one-shot lead playing the final hole until taking a bogey and losing in a playoff to Charles Howell III.
OLD SCHOOL: David Toms left Cog Hill not certain if his 68-67 weekend would be enough to get into the Tour Championship, figuring he would either go to Atlanta or go duck hunting.
But he couldn’t help notice the money list.
Toms is among four players who would have qualified for the Tour Championship had it been based on the top 30 in earnings instead of the new FedEx Cup system in which points are awarded for each tournament. He is No. 26 on the money list with just over $2 million, but finished 33rd in the playoff standings.
“I’m not going to miss on money, but I’m missing on points,” Toms said. “But I knew that going in. It’s not like they just announced it.”
Toms started out the playoffs at No. 25, but missed the cut at The Barclays and withdrew from the Deutsche Bank Championship, both tournaments he ordinarily doesn’t play. That was his only beef with the playoffs, a rotation of courses that suit some more than others.
“There are two golf courses I wouldn’t go to on a regular basis,” he said. “I had a bad attitude the first two weeks, and I played bad.”
This will be the first year he has missed the Tour Championship since 1998.
Others who finished in the top 30 on the money list but outside the top 30 in FedEx Cup standings were Luke Donald, Henrik Stenson and Jerry Kelly. On the other side, Tim Clark, Jonathan Byrd, Heath Slocum and Camilo Villegas all are outside the top 30 on the money list and have a tee time at East Lake.
GEORGIA ON HIS MIND: Zach Johnson has a chance at the Tour Championship to enter the record books alongside Tom Watson.
Having won the Masters at Augusta National and the AT&T Classic outside Atlanta, Johnson will go for the hat trick at East Lake, which would make it a sweep of PGA Tour events in Georgia.
Watson won three times in the same state in 1980 – the San Diego Open, Los Angeles Open and the Tournament of Champions when it was held at La Costa.
Johnson could not think of a better state than Georgia to sweep the Tour events.
“Not with that one tournament about 120 miles east of here,” he said, referring to Augusta.
DIVOTS: Steve Stricker has changed his mind about going to South Africa for the Nedbank Challenge. He was going to take 9-year-old Bobbi on the ultimate father-daughter trip, but then figured it was too far to go. Plus, he doesn’t want to repeat his mistakes from 1996 when he played too much in the offseason. … The Canadian Open will be played at Glen Abbey the next two years, with 2009 the 100th anniversary of golf’s third-oldest championship. … Stricker and Rory Sabbatini are the only players to record top 10s in the first three playoff events.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The top four players at the Wachovia Championship in May are the same four players atop the FedEx Cup standings going into the final event – Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and Rory Sabbatini.
FINAL WORD: “There’s still going to be a tournament. Somebody is going to finish first and somebody is going to finish 30th, and I know who the favorite is for that.” – Mark Calcavecchia, who has played as a single in the final round the last two weeks.