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Criticism Mounts Over New Tiger Event

PGA Tour (75x100)PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Saying he was 'insulted' by the prospect of Tiger Woods' new tournament being treated like an invitational, Rich Beem said he would rally players against the PGA TOUR to make sure the event had a full field.
'It's the most totally wrong thing I've heard of in a long time that's sticking it to the players,' Beem said Thursday.
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem has said that the AT&T National, to be played July 5-8 in Washington with Woods as the host, likely would be considered along the lines of tournaments run by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer that have limited fields.
The Memorial Tournament has a minimum of 105 players, while the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill has a minimum of 120 players, although 133 eligible players already have committed to play next week in Orlando.
Finchem said several details have not been finalized for the tournament, which will be run by the Tiger Woods Foundation.
'I've had some preliminary conversations with our board and I have to believe that we will work with Tiger and the foundation to fine-tune it,' Finchem said at a press conference Wednesday. 'But my guess is that at the end of the day, the field size will be commensurate with what you generally see in invitationals, which is a somewhat limited field.'
This caught several players by surprise.
'I was shocked when I heard that,' Brad Faxon said. 'We've got players looking for spots, and we're replacing a tournament that had a full field. With the amount of tournaments we have that are invitationals, it doesn't make sense to do more.'
Other invitationals on the PGA TOUR include the MCI Heritage and the Colonial. That doesn't include the three World Golf Championships.
Faxon and Beem are part of the 16-member Player Advisory Council, which reports to the tour's policy board.
PGA TOUR spokesman Ty Votaw said PAC input would be included before Finchem makes a formal recommendation to the policy board. The next scheduled meeting of the PAC is not until the end of April.
This is the second time in the last five months that some players have felt Finchem spoke too soon.
In November, the commissioner said the playoff events for the FedEx Cup this year would have 144-man fields, with players being mathematically eliminated from contention along the way, even though they could still tee it up. In a revolt led by Tom Pernice Jr., the tour changed course and decided to reduce the fields to 120 players, then 70 players until 30 players reached the TOUR Championship.
'We're trying to get back more spots throughout the year, and all of a sudden we're going to have a limited-field tournament? That goes against everything the players voted on with the playoff system,' Beem said. 'If that stays the way it is, I promise you there will be some action taken.'
He said players can override the board if it gets support of 66 percent of the voting membership.
Meanwhile, policy board member Joe Ogilvie said the tour is looking into making all invitationals more consistent in their eligibility and the size of their field, which might add opportunities for players throughout the FedEx Cup season.
Last year's tournament in the nation's capital was a 156-man field, won by Ben Curtis on a Tuesday because of rain delays.
Finchem said the 'prestige' of the new event would be one reason for a shorter field. Another reason he mentioned was the steamy conditions in Washington during Fourth of July week.
'We want the pace of play and the experience for the players to be positive, as well,' Finchem said. 'So you put those two things together, and it argues for a somewhat shorter field. And I think that's where we'll be.'

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