Notes Players Talking FedEx Change

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2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- The FedExCup is still two months from getting started, and players already are talking about possible changes.
 
One of the topics making the rounds the last few weeks was that the PGA TOUR would continue to reduce the fields after each of its 'playoff' events that lead to the TOUR Championship. Some have asked why it should be called a 'playoff' if no one gets eliminated.
 
The way it was presented in the summer, 144 players will be part of the first three 'playoff' events -- the Barclays Classic, Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship -- with the top 30 making the TOUR Championship.
 
'They were talking about shortening the fields,' U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. 'The only weird thing to me is 125 people keep their card on TOUR, but there's 144 guys out there. I don't understand.'
 
Commissioner Tim Finchem said the plan announced this summer would not be changed for the first year.
 
After the PGA Championship, players will be seeded based on the points they earned. And while points will be offered in the 'playoff' events, the three tournaments still will have 144-man fields until the TOUR Championship.
 
'There has been some discussion about a half-dozen things already in the draft plan,' Finchem said. 'And in a couple of areas, we went back and thought about it again. But we have determined ... to stay the course with what was presented, because it gets pretty confusing through the first year. And then we probably will make some tweaks.'
 
The PGA TOUR policy board meets in two weeks, and Finchem said he would not be recommending any changes.
 
Left undecided is the payment.
 
Players continue to debate with the $10 million to the winner should be paid up front in a lump sum or be deferred for tax purposes. Finchem said he probably would recommend a compromise for those who finish in the top -- some up front, some deferred.
 
But just like The Players Championship, where Finchem downplays the money, he said the emphasis on the FedExCup competition would be on who wins the title, not how much goes into the bank.
 
PAYNE STEWART AWARD
Gary Player was honored Wednesday with the Payne Stewart Award, given each year to a player who shared Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game, paid attention to presentation and was involved.
 
Stewart, a three-time major champion, died seven years ago in a freak plane crash.
 
'Gary Player represents everything this award stands for,' PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said. 'As one of the most traveled athletes in all of sports, Gary's love of the game and thirst for life spread to everyone around him.'
 
Player won 163 titles worldwide, including nine majors. He is among only five players to have captured the career Grand Slam. Off the course, the Gary Player Foundation has helped to build the Blair Atholl Schools in South Africa for more than 500 students.
 
Previous winners have been Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson in 2000; Ben Crenshaw in 2001; Nick Price in 2002; Tom Watson in 2003; Jay Haas in 2004; and Brad Faxon last year.
 
MILLER TIME
Geoff Ogilvy hasn't watched much videotape of his amazing U.S. Open victory at Winged Foot, except for a few highlights. He has yet to replay the entire final round, known as much for Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie making double bogey on the 18th than Ogilvy's par to finish at 5-over 285.
 
But there's a reason he hasn't watched it.
 
'It's hard as a golfer to watch a tournament when Johnny Miller is announcing it,' Ogilvy said.
 
Miller is the golf analyst for NBC Sports, which televises the U.S. Open, and popular among viewer because of his honesty. Ogilvy asked for an example of why players don't like listening to him.
 
'I walk off the sixth green on Sunday at Winged Foot, and he said, 'Now at least he can tell his grandparents that he led the U.S. Open on Sunday.' As if this guy is gone, he's got no chance,' Ogilvy said. 'Ten minutes later, he saying, 'What a great player.' I know everybody loves him, but you could interview the locker room (and) there's not one guy that likes the way he announces.'
 
Ogilvy, however, did keep it all in perspective. He acknowledged that Miller is good for the game because people talk about him.
 
'If it wasn't me or my friends that he was talking about, I would think he's great,' Ogilvy said. 'But it's not great when it's about you.'
 
LONGEST STREAK
Davis Love III and Vijay Singh share the longest streak of qualifying for the TOUR Championship, both finishing in the top 30 on the money list every year since 1995.
 
But the streak for most starts belongs to Singh. Love had to withdraw in 2004 with a back injury.
 
When it comes to performance, Singh has no peer. In his 12 times at the TOUR Championship, the Fijian has finished out of the top 10 only two times -- his debut in 1993, and in 2001 when he was 17th.
 
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