TIGER Close to European Eligibility

Tuesday, May 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

All Tiger Woods needs is one more tournament, his signature on a membership application and a $300 entry fee to join the European tour and have a good chance to become the first player to win the money title on both sides of the Atlantic.

Will he do it? Doubtful. Presented that scenario after winning in Germany, Woods offered only a lukewarm, ``You never know.''

Woods is exempt on the European tour for 10 years because of his Open championship at St. Andrews.

If he were a member, Woods already would be about $1 million ahead of Michael Campbell on the Order of Merit, having played just four tournaments _ the Johnnie Walker Classic, Dubai, the Masters and the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open.

Eleven tournaments are required of European tour members. Still on the schedule for Woods are the other three majors, two World Golf Championships and the Lancome Trophy in France the week before the Ryder Cup.

That makes 10 tournaments, leaving him one short. One possibility is the Dutch Open, which would love to have Woods and is played the week after the British Open.

Still, Woods seems cool to the idea, particularly because of the mandatory 11 tournaments. He added Dubai this year, and the Lancome Trophy made sense only because it fell a week before the Ryder Cup.

``Let's say one year I don't want to play as many tournaments,'' he said.

According to European tour regulations, a member who doesn't play at least 11 tournaments is not eligible for reinstatement without written permission for two years.

Would he consider joining the tour if there was no risk of suspension?

``I don't know,'' he said. ``It's a lot to ask to try and play.''

A year ago, Lee Westwood ended Colin Montgomerie's record seven-year reign atop the Order of Merit by winning nearly $3 million in 23 tournaments, a European tour record. Woods is listed on the supplemental list since he only played nine tournaments.

His earnings were more than $4.5 million.