Notes Drug Testing Grabs Players Attention

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2007 Buick InvitationalSAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Kenny Perry is starting his 20th year on the PGA TOUR and has seen just about everything. He has won nine times, played on four Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams and lost a playoff in a major in his home state.
 
Tuesday might have been the first time he really got nervous.
 
Perry and the rest of the players at the Buick Invitational spent part of their day in a mandatory meeting with PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem and administrators of the TOUR's new anti-doping policy. Testing begins July 8.
 
'It scared me a little bit, not knowing what's in some of that stuff,' Perry said.
 
The TOUR has made drug experts available at every tournament starting with the Sony Open to educate players on the drug testing procedure and penalties, and everyone was sent a 40-page manual that includes seven pages of what is prohibited.
 
The message some players took from the meeting was to be careful with supplements.
 
Finchem has resisted an anti-doping policy for the last seven years, but golf finally agreed to a program as it became prevalent in other sports, with baseball getting most of the attention the past couple of years.
 
'But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point,' Finchem said last fall when the plan was announced.
 
Tiger Woods, who said two years ago the TOUR should begin testing immediately, was in the morning session, but left without comment. Finchem also was not available to speak until Wednesday.
 
'Tim doesn't think someone is going to test positive for a performance-enhancing drug,' Kevin Sutherland said. 'I think he's more concerned about someone testing positive because he made a mistake. They really stressed supplements, knowing what's in them.'
 
That's what got Perry's attention.
 
He said all he's ever taken are vitamins, and he'll give those a closer look. He also talked about a diet program he tried last year.
 
'I was taking protein shakes and a lot of vitamin B supplements,' he said. 'I've got to see what's in that stuff.'
 
Sutherland and Perry said the tour's new cut policy that caused such a stink at the Sony Open never came up in the morning meeting, with the attention squarely on drug testing.
 
'He said it's something we have to do to comply with other sports,' Perry said. 'It's a shame the tour has got to spend $1.5 million for something I don't think we really need.'
 
CUT HISTORY:
Paul Azinger was among the most vocal players against the PGA TTOUR's new cut policy, and after running through his list of complaints about how 18 players who made the cut couldn't play in Honolulu, he said of the tour hierarchy, 'What is it that makes these guys so afraid of tradition?'
 
He figured the cut has always been top 70 and ties, regardless of how many players make the cut.
 
And he was right -- with one asterisk.
 
When the PGA TOUR was formed in 1969, regulations stated that the field will be reduced to top 70 players and ties after 36 holes. That policy remained virtually unchanged until this year.
 
One exception came in 1973 when amateurs were removed from the equation, so the regulation was changed to say that the top 70 'professionals' and ties made the cut. That played a significant role in 1999 when Tiger Woods was in a tie for 71st at Bay Hill, but made the cut because amateur Matt Kuchar easily made the cut. That allowed Woods to be among the top 70 pros, and he went on to set the tour's consecutive cut record.
 
As for the asterisk?
 
The TOUR only paid the low 70 and ties after the tournament, meaning a dozen or so players could make the cut and not be paid. How would that have gone down at the Sony Open?
 
That policy was changed in 1979 so that prize money was paid to everyone making the cut.
 
DIVOTS:
The Buick Invitational has 11 of the top 30 players from the world rankings. The Qatar Masters on the European Tour has 10 of the top 30, including Scott Verplank. ... Ben Curtis kept busy in the offseason without playing too much golf. His wife, Candace, gave birth Dec. 11 to a daughter they named Addison Marie. It was their second child.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK:
In his 11 season-opening tournaments, Tiger Woods has won five times and never finished out of the top 10.
 
FINAL WORD:
'I love it when your only weakness is you haven't won a major from behind. I'm feeling bad for him. I've never won a major from behind, either.' -- Paul Goydos on Tiger Woods.
 
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