PGA Tour tweaks rule on attendance

Updated: September 1, 2010, 9:06 AM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

The PGA Tour has suspended its rule that kept Jim Furyk from playing in last week's Barclays tournament because he overslept and missed his tee time for the pre-tournament pro-am.

Furyk, who had been ranked third in the FedEx Cup standings, overslept because his cell phone alarm failed to work.

He scurried to get to the course in time but was late, meaning automatic ineligibility for the tournament -- a rule put in place in 2004 to combat a growing a number of instances in which players were skipping the pre-tournament event with amateurs.

Many, however, believe the penalty was too harsh -- not everyone is required to play in the pro-am.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem agreed and announced Tuesday that such instances for the rest of the year would be handled as a tour disciplinary matter and further sponsor obligations would be required.

Although not part of the competition, the weekly pro-am at regular PGA Tour events provides a large source of revenue for the event. Amateurs pay thousands of dollars for the right to play alongside the pros for a day.

A player who misses the pro-am entirely without an excuse for family emergency or illness still will be declared ineligible for the event, Finchem said.

Furyk, who won the 2003 U.S. Open and has two victories this year on the PGA Tour, dropped to eighth in the FedEx standings, which pays a $10 million bonus to the winner.

Finchem asked members of the tour's Players Advisory Council and player directors to study pro-am regulations for discussion later this year.

Last week's pro-am had 54 pros competing with amateurs, a point Phil Mickelson made in criticizing the rule.

"The rule itself applies to only half the field," Mickelson said at the Barclays. "If you're going to have a rule that does not apply to everybody, because not everybody played the pro-am, you cannot have it affect the competition.

"I cannot disagree with it more. I have no idea how the commissioner let this rule go through. It's ridiculous."

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

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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