Champions Tour Comes Under Fire

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CONCORD, Mass. -- Allen Doyle, never a fixture on the men's tour, wants the Champions Tour to make room for little-known players at the expense of weaker golfers who sponsors feel draw bigger crowds.
 
The only senior players with sizable followings are Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez, he said Monday.
 
Allen Doyle'Outside of those guys, it doesn't matter who it is,' said Doyle, who believes fans on the course will follow golfers who are playing well that day rather than those who were big names in the past.
 
'If he's in his late 50s or his 60s, his wife probably isn't following him,' Doyle said. 'His wife is smart enough to know, 'I've done this for 40 years. Why am I going to go out and watch him shoot 77?''
 
If more famous players are still playing well 'it's great,' he said. But when they're not, they can still play because they are exempt from qualifying and sponsors may prefer them for the pro-am and to attract fans.
 
Doyle didn't turn pro until 1995 after a successful amateur career. Last year he won the FleetBoston Classic at Nashawtuc Country Club and will return to defend his title under the tournament's new name, Bank of America Championship, from June 25-27.
 
He criticized a change that allows only two golfers to make the tournament through Monday qualifying.

'It already was brutal, but when you go from four spots to two spots, it's inhumane,' Doyle said. 'Our tour has done a terrible job marketing qualifiers and guys that have succeeded.'
 
Doyle, ranked 26th in earnings this year with $236,872, has finished in the Top 10 in two of his 10 tournaments.
 
Players who have said they should help newcomers but don't do it by giving their spot in the field to them, 'are selfish enough that they want to keep playing and can't play well anymore,' Doyle said.
 
'I say their responsibility is to lead, and they couldn't argue that and say 'I'm still exempt, and I can play for as long as I want.' So I'd rather see good golf.'
 
Doyle, 55, is a native of nearby Norwood who lives in Georgia. He joined the Champions Tour in 1998 and has won more than $1 million each of the last five years.
 
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