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Playoffs in '08 will take break for Ryder Cup

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (AP) — The U.S. PGA Tour Playoffs will take a two-week break next year to give players a chance to be fresh for the Ryder Cup, addressing a concern that American players would be worn out before one of the most tiresome weeks of the year.

The change was approved by the U.S. PGA Tour policy board.

"It probably helps us because our Ryder Cup team tends to have more players in the Tour Championship," United States captain Paul Azinger said Tuesday. "Their guys (Europe) could be over at Valhalla for a week while our guys are grinding for a fifth week in a row. It's not going to hurt us."

The first three playoff events for the FedEx Cup - The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship - will be played on consecutive weeks starting from Aug. 21.

After the BMW Championship in St. Louis, the tour will have a week off from golf - a rarity for September - before the Ryder Cup is played from Sept. 19-21 at Valhalla in Kentucky.

The U.S. Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta will be held the following week.

"We felt it was important to give those members of both the U.S. and European teams who will be competing in the playoffs the ability to prepare for the Ryder Cup while also focusing on the Tour Championship the following week," U.S. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.

The premise behind the four-week playoffs was to get the biggest stars competing four straight weeks concluding with the U.S. Tour Championship, where the winner of the points-based FedEx Cup received a $10 million (6.9 million) bonus.

The plan didn't entirely deliver this year, however, when Tiger Woods skipped the opening playoff event and still won the FedEx Cup by a big margin. Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington also missed one playoff event.

The bigger concern was the Ryder Cup because 2008 was the only year in the television contract that there was not a week off between the U.S. Tour Championship and either the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. The tour feared some players might skip playoff events, perhaps even in the Tour Championship, to keep fresh for its biennial match against Europe.

"You would see a majority take at least one week off - I guarantee it," Jim Furyk said last month.

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