Tournaments opposite marquee events still crucial

Updated: November 1, 2002, 12:29 AM ET
Associated Press

MADISON, Miss. -- PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem says he doesn't agree with some of golf's marquee players who think the tour should not hold two events in the same week.


Finchem was at Annandale Golf Club on Thursday for the first round of the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. In Atlanta, the top 30 players on the money list played the first round of the Tour Championship.

''You get to the end of the year and we have a special tournament, it's easy to see how you would want that to be unique to that week,'' Finchem said. ''On the other hand, we try to create as many playing opportunities as we can for players.''

David Duval, who did not qualify for the Tour Championship, briefly considered playing in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, but decided against it.

''I can't play,'' Duval said recently. ''That would go against everything I believe in.''

Duval, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are among those staunchly opposed to the PGA Tour holding two tournaments in one week. It happened five times this year -- six including the Texas Open, held opposite the Ryder Cup.

Tournaments also were held the same weeks as three World Golf Championships and the British Open.

Finchem said the Southern Farm Bureau Classic isn't a trivial tournament. Many players here are trying to earn playing privileges for next season by finishing in the top 125 on the money list and avoid Q School.

''These players are still playing for stuff that's pretty important. We have looked from time to time at maybe moving this tournament over, but right now our focus is this week,'' he said.

''And also players like playing here. It's a good golf course, good tournament. Players love the hospitality.''

The Southern Farm Bureau Classic was played during the summer until 1998, but the searing Mississippi heat often kept players away. Then it was played the same weekend as the British Open.

''This time of year works really good, because of the weather conditions, the golf course conditions. Most years the weather here this time of years is really good,'' Finchem said. ''We hope to announce our schedule in the middle of November, but our plan is to be here next year.''

Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press