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Finchem holds court

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NEWTON SQUARE, Pa. – PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem talked with the media on Wednesday at Aronimink Golf Club, covering a range of topics from the future of golf in Philadelphia to the future of the AT&T National.

But the most telling item to emerge from his 40-minute Q&A had to do with a “designated tournament” proposal that seems to be gathering momentum.

“We are looking at a system where we would each year identify a short list of tournaments that had serious field needs in terms of ability to build a tournament,” Finchem said.

In practical terms Finchem said for the proposal to become policy in time for the 2011 season the Tour Policy Board must vote on the measure twice and give officials enough time to educate players about the new rule before next year. Which means a decision would need to be made by September, he said.

Other options have been suggested to improve the quality of certain fields, including a one-in-four rule that would require players participate in every event once every four years, and increasing the minimum number of tournaments players are required to play from 15 to 20. The designated tournament proposal, however, seems to be a compromise with broad-based support.

“This is probably a better way to get it done for now,” said David Toms, one of four player directors on the Policy Board. “It’s not too intrusive to the player and not asking too much.”

The way the plan would work is that each year the Tour would select four to five events and top players, probably the top 30 from the previous year’s FedEx Cup points list, would be required to play at least one of them.

“We need to do this, the question is what will it look like?” said Joe Ogilvie, a member of the Tour’s Player Advisory Council. “At the end of the day how do you get with Tiger (Woods) and Phil (Mickelson) and explain it to them and convince them it’s important.”

How a designated tournament would be selected remains to be seen, but there are no shortage of candidates.

“New Orleans stands out, and not just because I’m from Louisiana,” Toms said. “(Zurich) made a big commitment to the Tour in a (economic) down turn and their field hasn’t gotten any better.”