Notes Finchem Extends Contract DiMarco Withdraws


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tim Finchem navigated his way through one of the toughest stretches of his 12 years as PGA TOUR commissioner. He revamped the tour's schedule for 2007 -- reducing several longtime events to junior varsity status -- and he negotiated a six-year TV deal with two networks and a 15-year deal with The Golf Channel.
Finchem's contract expires June 1, but he's not ready to retire.
The PGA TOUR board of directors gave him a six-year contract extension that takes Finchem to his 65th birthday, and Finchem said at a players-only meeting Tuesday night that he agreed to serve it.
'I didn't hear any booing,' Finchem said. 'I'm not sure they jumped up and down, but I didn't hear any booing.'
But there were the usual murmurs about his compensation.
Three players, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private, said Finchem's salary was announced as a 'comfortable' $4.5 million. That would have put him at No. 4 on last year's money list.
Camilo Villegas can thank a fellow Florida alumni for one last chance to get into the Masters.
Villegas, the 23-year-old rookie from Colombia with two second-places finishes this year, went from first alternate to part of the 144-man field at The Players Championship when Chris DiMarco withdrew.
Villegas is No. 15 on the money list, and needs to get in the top 10 after this week to qualify for the Masters.
'I can't control numbers out there,' he said. 'I can only control one shot at a time, look at my target and hit it. If it's going to happen, we'll find out. I hope to have a good week, but I'm not too worried about it.'
DiMarco, who hasn't won on the PGA Tour in four years, suffered a minor rib injury while skiing in Colorado last week with his family. He aggravated the injury Sunday at his home course in Orlando while practicing. A statement from IMG said a short recovery time was expected.
DiMarco played for the Florida Gators, and drove an orange-and-blue van while on the Nationwide Tour. Villegas was part of Florida's national championship team in 2001.
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem says the Fall Series of events next year -- those after the FedEx Cup competition ends -- could feature as many as seven tournaments.
And Washington is still in the mix.
Booz Allen announced this week that it would no extend its title sponsorship for the PGA TOUR outside the nation's capital, although Finchem said it offered $1 million to be a supporting sponsor. The TOUR continues to look for a sponsor to keep golf in Washington.
'I wouldn't call it in danger,' he said. 'We have to arrange for a title sponsor position. I have every reason to believe we will do that, but until it's done, it's not done. But we have all the elements in place, and I think we'll be in good shape in Washington.'
The TOUR last week announced a Fall Series event in Fresno, Calif., and the Texas Open is signed up through 2002. Finchem said three other fall events are ready to go, and an announcement is expected soon. The TOUR is working on another undisclosed tournament.
Luke Donald handled the pressure beautifully over the closing holes when he won the Honda Classic. The greatest pressure came when the tournament was over.
Not long after Donald had the trophy, a tour official handed him a phone. It was Arnold Palmer, asking the Englishman to play in the Bay Hill Invitational. Trouble was, Donald had already made plans with high school friends, and he had a corporate outing Wednesday.
'It was tricky,' he said. 'It's hard to say 'no' to someone as great a golfer as he is. I pretty much told him, 'Well, I'll think about it.' I didn't want to say 'no' to his face.'
Donald said he might consider playing Bay Hill next year.
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