Notes Finchem Disappointed in Tiger

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the Barclays Logo 2007HARRISON, N.Y. -- PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem's news conference Wednesday at The Barclays opened with a question about Tiger Woods' decision to skip the first event of the four-tournament FedEx Cup playoffs.
 
'Obviously, I'm disappointed with his decision,' Finchem said. 'It's not a decision that I like to see him make, candidly, any week of the year, but he doesn't play them all. ... From the standpoint of the sponsor here, the fans in New York, it's certainly a negative. You know, I would like to see it the other way.'
 
Woods, who made the last of his four Westchester Country Club starts in 2003, repeated Tuesday in a monthly newsletter that his body needed a break after consecutive victories in the Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship, and that he wanted to be sharp for the final three FedExCup events and the Presidents Cup.
 
In addition to Woods, five other eligible players are missing, reducing the field to 138. No. 59 Bernhard Langer is playing in the KLM Open in the Netherlands, No. 64 Stephen Ames is taking the week off, No. 96 Jose Maria Olazabal is sidelined by a knee injury, No. 126 Jason Bohn has a rib injury, and No. 133 Ryan Palmer passed because of a family illness.
 
Finchem also was asked about possible FedExCup format changes.
 
'It's just like a tournament, or an eligibility structure,' Finchem said. 'You get through with it, you study it, you examine what the fans think about it, players think about it, sponsors think about it, and then you adjust.'
 
MARQUEE GROUP:
With the groupings set by the FedExCup points, defending champion Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson -- the top three seeds in the field -- will play together the first two rounds.
 
'That will kind of get us going a little bit,' Singh said. 'Obviously, you want to be ahead of the other guys and they feel the same way.'
 
Last year, Singh won The Barclays for a record third time to tie Sam Snead's record for victories over 40 with 17 -- a mark the 44-year-old Fijian has pushed to 19 this year. Singh won the 1993 event on the traditional Westchester Country Club course for the first of his 31 PGA TOUR titles and also won in 1995.
 
'I think I have more knowledge about this golf course than any other,' Singh said. 'You know the breaks. You know where not to hit it. You know where to take a risk.'
 
In other marquee groups, No. 5 K.J. Choi will play with Rory Sabbatini and Masters champion Zach Johnson, and No. 8 Charles Howell III will tee it up with fellow young stars Brandt Snedeker and Adam Scott.
 
FULL STRENGTH:
Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk are back at full strength for the start of the FedExCup playoffs.
 
Mickelson has been slowed by a left wrist injury that he suspects happened while practicing out of the deep rough at Oakmont in preparation for the U.S. Open.
 
After withdrawing from the Memorial, he missed cuts in the U.S. Open, AT&T National and British Open, then tied for 46th in the Bridgestone Invitational and tied for 32nd two weeks ago in the PGA Championship.
 
'My excitement level to play golf is very high,' Mickelson said. 'I feel like I've been suspended for three months. ... My hand feels great now. I'm able to practice fully. I feel like my game is getting sharp, and when the three majors have already passed. So, I am actually very excited about the FedExCup and I'm excited about the Presidents Cup, and I'm even going to play a few events overseas.'
 
Furyk successfully defended his Canadian Open title in late July for his 13th PGA TOUR victory, then withdrew from the Bridgestone the following week because of back pain and missed the cut in the PGA Championship.
 
'Right now, I feel I'm in good health,' Furyk said. 'I played quite a bit and practiced when I was home. I don't feel limited in any way right now.'
 
DIVOTS:
Ernie Els, the 1996 and 1997 winner, is making his first appearance in the event since 2004. ... Sergio Garcia won the 2001 and 2004 tournaments. ... The winner will receive $1.26 million from the $7 million purse, and 9,000 of the available 50,000 FedExCup points. ... The tournament is in its 41st season at Westchester Country Club. The 2009 event will be played at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J.
 
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