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PGA's worry: FedEx Cup could tire Ryder Cup players

8/16/2006 - Golf

MEDINAH, Ill. -- The Americans could be worn out when they
get to the Ryder Cup two years from now, and PGA of America
officials are blaming the new FedEx Cup competition.

The FedEx Cup starts next year and is the PGA Tour's attempt at
a playoff system. It's a season-long points race for $10 million,
in which top players will be expected to compete in six of the
final seven tournaments, ending in mid-September at the Tour
Championship.

In 2008, the Ryder Cup will start five days later.

One week, Tiger Woods & Co. will be playing for $10 million. The
next week, even more will be at stake playing for their flag.

"We've made it clear to the PGA Tour we are not happy with the
scheduling for 2008, that we were not able to achieve a one-week
gap between their big Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup, which we
don't think is good," said Joe Steranka, the PGA of America's
chief executive officer.

"We would prefer to have one week between, and I think that's
in place for the subsequent years," he said. "How players react
to the new PGA Tour schedule remains to be seen, we're going to
watch it. If it has an impact on the Ryder Cup that we think we
need to address further, we'll address it."

There might not be anything the PGA of America can do.

PGA Tour spokesman Bob Combs attributed the timing to NBC
Sports, which televises the final three tournaments of the FedEx
Cup and the Ryder Cup. He said the tour was able to negotiate a
one-week gap between the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup or
Presidents Cup in five out of the six years, the exception being
2008.

"We agree there needs to be at least a week break," Combs
said. "It really was an NBC television issue that could not be
resolved. I believe everything is locked up from a television
perspective."

Steranka was clearly annoyed, however, choosing his words
carefully when he spoke of the goodwill between both organizations.

"That's not the spirit of the relationship," he said. "We
don't agree on everything. But this is one thing they felt couldn't
change, and we felt it needed to change."

PGA president Roger Warren said the '08 Ryder Cup was locked
into Sept. 19-21 dates.

"We're concerned about the impact it might have on the
players," he said.

Still, no one is sure how the FedEx Cup will unfold. PGA Tour
commissioner Tim Finchem has said players likely will have to play
the final four weeks to have any chance of winning the $10 million
prize, although it's mathematically possible that Woods, Mickelson
or another hot player could skip a week and still win the cup.

As much money as the players already make, some might even skip
events to have their game ready for the Ryder Cup, which is on the
same scale of a major championship.

Asked what he thought about the situation, U.S. captain Tom
Lehman said "I want no part of this conversation."

"It's not optimal," he eventually said.