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Desert dilemma

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Both events are played in the desert, but that’s where the similarities end. The Bob Hope Classic is a five-day pro-am, while the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship features four of the top five players in the World Ranking and all four of last year’s major champions.

PGA Tour regulations require that members be granted a conflicting event release to play elsewhere the week of a Tour stop and the circuit issued nine releases this week, the same as last year.

Of those nine – Paul Casey, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel and Henrik Stenson – only Mickelson doesn’t hold duel membership on both the PGA Tour and European Tour.

Players are allowed three releases plus one more for every five Tour events they play beyond the circuit’s 15-tournament minimum, unless they hold duel membership like McDowell & Co.

Duel members can compete on their “home circuits” as much as they want, but only if those events are played in continental Europe. Which means duel members must be granted a release during Europe’s desert or Asian swings, for example.

But that’s of little comfort to the Bob Hope Classic, which is starting to feel like the year’s best “opposite-field event.”