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January 6 2011

1:30 AM

Commissioner: We’ll watch FEC points

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- No changes were made to the FedExCup points structure for 2011, but PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday that the TOUR will keep a close watch on how the points unfold this year, especially in terms of players making big moves in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup without benefit of winning a tournament during the year.

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"The question raised by some players and others that while you want the full season to have a real impact on who gets to Atlanta and where the seeds are going into Atlanta, at the same time, there's too much volatility and somebody can come from pretty far back and scoot way up into that list without winning," Finchem said.

"So we did look at that and we looked at it carefully. But ... we felt like across the board, there clearly was a recognition that play early meant a lot late, regardless of what happened late. There were a number of examples of that."

The commissioner cited Tiger Woods as an example, saying that if the world's top-ranked player had played his normal number of events in 2010, he would have advanced to East Lake. Instead, Woods made nine starts in the regular season and failed to post a top-10 finish in any of the first three Playoffs events, leaving him outside of the top 30 who advanced to THE TOUR Championship.

Finchem said the TOUR did not want to react so quickly with another points adjustment in this, the fourth year of the FedExCup.

"I do think it's an issue that clearly deserves watching," he said. "And then the other side of it, smaller reason, but a reason, was that, again, we just felt like we wanted a solid continuity to continue to get more fans involved in the process without a distraction of explaining a change. So that weighed into that discussion a little bit.

"But it's certainly an open question and it's certainly something we are going to watch carefully as we go this year. ... So we just want to build on that this year, and then these kind of questions we'll keep an eye on and maybe make a change for the future."

Other highlights of the commissioner's new conference Wednesday:

THOUGHTS ON THE EUROPEAN TOUR: "This recent focus on three or four players, particularly as it relates to Europe, does not cause us concern. I mean, we see the need for these players to support the Tour in Europe. We feel like a strong European Tour is in everybody's interest, in our interests. The European Tour has been under a lot of pressure, and we didn't help their cause when we moved THE PLAYERS to May and when we created the FedExCup with the Playoffs.

"What that did was it put significant pressure on their early summer and late summer schedule, when any player or most players who are dual members are going to play more here in the early summer because of THE PLAYERS and then again late in the summer.

"So the fact that they have worked hard to encourage their players to play more and changed their rules as it relates to The Ryder Cup for that reason, is understandable, and we don't complain about that. We think that those steps are reasonable, and we support players playing more over there, even though it might cost us some starts over here.  We feel like we are strong enough and we like the balance of international players.

"And you can make an argument, candidly, long term that it's in our interests that we keep that balance; that we not be a TOUR populated 90 percent by players outside the U.S. We need to appeal to the market in the United States, and it's a good balance. It's a balance that allows us to be very successful in the United States and at the same time be very successful in distributing our television product around the globe."

RICKIE FOWLER BEATING OUR RORY McILROY FOR 2010 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: "I'm not going to again speak for the players, but how much emphasis do you put on winning a tournament and how much emphasis do you put on season long consistent performance, and to some extent, the support of the TOUR?
"In this case, Rickie was ahead of Rory on the Money List and he was ahead of him on the FedExCup points. He didn't win but he had a consistent year, and he played more events.

"Some players would say yeah, but winning is everything, I vote for the guy who won. Other guys will say, I'm compelled by this. And I suppose, based on what you all have written -- I haven't heard a player say this, but I've read that some players just question the criteria of designating Rory a rookie, which I suppose might have affected some votes.

"But you know, I don't think it's an unreasonable determination either way you go." – Mike McAllister

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