To play or not to play The Players


On Wednesday world No. 1 Lee Westwood suggested to Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” crew that had he known The Players Championship was exempt from his 10-event PGA Tour maximum he may have shown up at TPC Sawgrass in May. Instead, the Englishman said he scheduled other events that will not allow him to play the circuit’s marquee event.

“When you’re setting up a schedule you can’t wait for people to make decisions on their rules,” Westwood said.

Yet the timing of events suggests Westwood learned of the policy change within a week of being told he would only get 10 starts as a non-member.

“My recollection of the timing,” Andy Pazder, the Tour’s executive vice president and chief of operations, told, is that “I know Rory (McIlroy) told (Tour commissioner Tim Finchem) at the Barclays Singapore Open (Nov. 8-14) that he would not be renewing his membership. That same week I picked up on the news coverage of that and I called (McIlroy and Westwood’s manager Chubby Chandler) and said I want to make sure you understand it’s not 12 (starts) it’s 10 and the same applies to Lee.”

The Tour’s Policy Board met Nov. 15-16 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and voted to amend the policy to exempt The Players from that maximum.

“That’s when our board made the change which kind of carved out The Players Championship. It was right after that that I contacted (Chandler) immediately,” Pazder said.

On Nov. 23 at the Dubai World Championship Westwood said he’d been informed of the policy change.

“The only situation I didn't want to get into was where I played the major championships, the World Golf Championships, and then chose to play (the Honda Classic) because it was between the two World Golf Championships; and (the Houston Open) because it was the one before the Masters; and then have to pick between The Players Championship and defending in Memphis. Now, I don't think anybody would have wanted that,” Westwood said in Dubai. “So it was I guess a way of getting around it.”