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May 9 2012

8:52 PM

Commissioner touches on several topics

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem held his annual press conference Wednesday prior to the start of THE PLAYERS Championship. Here are a few of his answers to reporters’ questions:

ON THE POSSIBILITY OF A THREE-HOLE PLAYOFF INSTEAD OF A SUDDEN-DEATH PLAYOFF STARTING AT THE 17TH HOLE ...

"It's a matter of regular discussion and we continue to look at it," Finchem said. "I think we determined right now that we would go ahead through this year with our current television agreements. There are a lot of obstacles to moving that direction. There are pluses and minuses, but it will probably be something we spend a little bit more time on as we get into the middle part of this year.

"But last year we talked about it some, and we'll be talking about it again this year. It's something that's interesting to us, but we have not yet determined it's something that we should necessarily do. If you ask 10 people, probably five would say, if you're going to have a playoff, sudden death on the 17th hole is tough to beat. Others would argue that you keep the suspense going in an aggregate, multi-hole situation.

"Then you take either one of those courses and start to apply it to air times and darkness and whatever; it's not a situation where there's a right or wrong answer, so we'll continue to think about it."

ON THE ITEMS STILL TO BE DETERMINED PRIOR TO QUALIFYING AND SCHEDULE CHANGES IN 2013 ...

"There's really only two things that are hanging out there," Finchem said. "One is, now that all tournaments will be part of the FedExCup, how many points do they receive relative to other tournaments. And the second is, in the qualification, we know that the top 75 off the Nationwide are going to go into those three final events, and we know when they go there, they are going to be joined by the 126 to 200 off the PGA TOUR. That's going to happen. And then there's going to be three finals, and then there's going to be 50 cards awarded.

"The question is, when those two groups come together, do you weight them in some fashion; do you seed them in some fashion? And the details of that are what's left to be ironed out by the June meeting. But that's pretty much it."

ON THE TOUR'S VIEW OF AUGUSTA NATIONAL'S MEMBERSHIP POLICY ...

"I think the position of the PGA TOUR hasn't changed," Finchem said. "We have a policy that says that when we go out and do a co-sanctioned event, we are going to play it at a club that is as open to women members, open to minority members, etc., and we follow that policy carefully.

"In the case of the Masters, we have concluded a number of times now, and we have certainly not moved off of this; that we are not going to give up the Masters as a tournament on our TOUR. It's too important. And so at the end of the day, the membership of that club have to determine their membership. They are not doing anything illegal.

"But we just elect to continue to recognize them as an official money event on the PGA TOUR because we think it's that important to golf, so we don't get to determining whether their policies are right or wrong, because we don't have to, because we made the conclusion that regardless of those policies, we are going to continue to play and recognize them as part of the PGA TOUR.

"I know some people don't like that position, and I appreciate that and I understand their reasoning, but that's the decision we've made."

ON PGA TOUR'S APPROACH TO SPEEDING UP PLAY …

"Anything we can do from a communications standpoint to encourage people playing faster, we will do," Finchem said. "But clubs have got to take the initiative to drive play, and the average player has got to take the initiative and say, guys, let's go out here and play in three hours and 45 minutes, and that doesn't happen too many places.

"... If I'm watching a PGA TOUR player, and I'm going to go through the same pre-shot routine that that player takes, and he's hitting it 69 times and I'm hitting it 93, I'm going to be playing a lot longer than that guy. So it's a different game from that perspective. And if you notice our players, they move; they don't want to be on the clock. They hit a shot and they move. But there are different variables out here at this level and we measure it pretty carefully.

"One thing we are sensitive to is a player who is slow and as such impacts his fellow competitor, which is a different thing from how long it takes to play. That results in some counseling, and we have had good success with counseling. But I don't think PGA TOUR golf is the culprit here. I think the culprit is taking steps to drive the pace of play for the average player, and if we can be helpful in that regard, we're open to it."

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