Notes Conflicts Abound

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PGA TourBrent Geiberger got into the PGA Tour record books by winning the same tournament as his father with his two-shot victory in Greensboro. But he also made history for something that bothers him.
 
Geiberger became the first player to be fined $20,000 for being put on the clock 10 times in one season.
 
Brent Geiberger'I understand they're trying to do something about slow play and trying to get a system that works,' Geiberger said. 'But it's not a system that shows you're a slow player.'
 
The tour last year introduced a tough penalty structure to combat slow play. Some players were concerned that they would be guilty by association if they kept getting paired with notoriously slow players, because everyone in the group is considered on the clock when they are out of position.
 
Geiberger pointed out another situation he feels was unfair.
 
Tour officials pay more attention to the first three groups, because they set the pace for the rest of the field. PGA Tour winners get later tee times, so Geiberger has been among the first off because he had not won since 1999.
 
'If you're in the first three groups, those are the one trying to keep the pace up,' he said. 'If I'm in the middle of the field, the winner's bracket, and you're a minute or two over, they let it slide a little.'
 
Mark Russell, senior rules official for the PGA Tour, could not comment on Geiberger because the tour does not disclose fines. But he agreed earlier groups get more scrutiny, saying a rules official is assigned to the lead groups every Thursday and Friday.
 
'That's the way it has to be,' Russell said. 'It would be like the lead car driving 20 mph. You think there's going to be a traffic jam? But there's a ton of others in the same situation. Those guys have got set the pace.'
 
Geiberger said he was put on the clock twice at the Wachovia Championship. One of those was when Scott Hend had to get two rulings in three holes.
 
The 10th time, which cost him $20,000, irritates him the most.
 
It came in the Buick Championship at Hartford after the short par-4 15th, where players are asked to let the group behind them tee off before finishing the hole. Geiberger says Bob Burns drove beyond the green onto the 16th tee box. Once Geiberger finished the 15th, he had to wait for Burns to get a drop and play to the green before his group could even get on the 16th tee.
 
'Of course, there's going to be separation,' Geiberger said. 'It doesn't mean they should put us on the clock. It doesn't mean I should get a $20,000 fine that I had to pay.'
 
Geiberger will be able to put his theory to test. His victory in Greensboro will put him in the middle of the tee times with other PGA Tour winners for the next two years.
 
MATCH PLAY CONFLICT
The European tour schedule was released last week, and one change could affect non-European players.
 
The World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, usually played in early October, was moved to Sept. 15-18. That's one week before the Presidents Cup is played in Virginia.
 
The three-time defending champion is Ernie Els, who now is faced with the prospect of playing as many as 144 holes of match play before his International team in trying to beat the Americans.
 
'I'm not sure why they moved that,' Els said. 'It's going to be a bit of a grind. I can't see too many guys flying there, coming back. It's hard doing that. I'm going to do it, but I'm just crazy.'
 
Vijay Singh typically plays the HSBC World Match Play and is a past champion. But he likely will skip next year to defend his title in the 84 Lumber Classic, with which he also has a sponsorship deal.
 
If the European tour was hopeful of getting a stronger field, it might not work. Assuming Retief Goosen is eligible for Wentworth, he doubts he will play.
 
'It's going to be a tough one,' Goosen said. 'I'll probably play over here (PGA Tour) if it's a good tournament.'
 
Besides, Goosen has never been a big fan of Wentworth.
 
'It's a great event,' he said. 'I wish it move around instead of being there all the time. There's only one player who likes it, and he wins there every time.'
 
Phil MickelsonAUGUSTA ON HIS MIND
Phil Mickelson has made it a habit of playing somewhere else than the tournament course during the week, and he caught plenty of grief for doing that at the Ryder Cup.
 
No one will raise any eyebrows this week.
 
Lefty plans to play Wednesday at Augusta National for the first time since he won the Masters.
 
'I've gone there and played a bunch, but not since I've won,' Mickelson said. 'It will be my first round back, so I'm trying to get a little bit of positive momentum. I can't wait to get out there and just relive a lot of the shots and putts of Sunday's final round.'
 
SLAM IN THE AIR
Even if U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen pulls out of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, Tiger Woods says he won't play the Nov. 23-24 tournament in Hawaii that he won five straight years.
 
Goosen's spot in the major winners-only field is in doubt because his wife is expecting their second child on Nov. 25, a day after the two-day event at Poipu Bay. Ernie Els would be first alternate, but he already said he will would not play.
 
The second alternate is Woods, who will be on his way from Japan to California that week. He said he wouldn't play because he didn't qualify by winning a major.
 
Woods won the PGA Grand Slam in 1998 as an alternate, but he drew a distinction.
 
'One person won two majors that year,' he said, referring to Mark O'Meara's victories in the Masters and British Open. 'I felt it was my right to go. This year, we had four different winners, so I don't think it's my right.'
 
The third alternate is Justin Leonard, whose agent said he would play if Goosen withdraws.
 
DIVOTS
Tiger Woods will be competing against women twice during the silly season. First is a one-day Skins competition next week in Korea with K.J. Choi, Colin Montgomerie and Se Ri Pak. At the end of the month, Woods is playing in the original Skins Game in California against Fred Couples, Adam Scott and Annika Sorenstam. ... Phil Mickelson will give $105,600 to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Mickelson and his sponsors, Ford and BearingPoint, gave $100 for each birdie and $500 for each eagle to a foundation that provides scholarships for children of Special Operations personnel killed in combat.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Phil Mickelson was 144 under par in the 16 stroke-play tournaments he played through the PGA Championship. He was 17 over par in the three events he completed after the majors.
 
FINAL WORD
'It's Tiger Woods without the charisma.' - Paul Azinger, on Vijay Singh's season.
 
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