Woods will be host of his first PGA TOUR event this summer in Washington, and the field was reduced to 120 players. Mickelson was excused from playing the pro-am in Dallas two weeks ago when his plane was grounded in Arkansas.
And both were vocal about having shorter seasons before the TOUR created the FedEx Cup.
'There's always been a perception that top players have more access, more involvement, more impact than other players,' PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday. 'I think that's an understandable perception. Why wouldn't they? To the average fan, if your top four or five players got together said, 'We should change tournament regulation X,' wouldn't the tournament pay attention to that?'
'I think the TOUR would, but the tour is an organization of the players. So I suspect the players would in that context.'
Finchem said he has found top players worry more about their games than policies and issues.
Fred Funk went from a Champions Tour event last week to THE PLAYERS Championship, but don't get the idea he plans to bounce between the big leagues and the 50-and-older circuit the rest of the year.
Funk is exempt on the PGA TOUR through 2010 because of his victory at Sawgrass two years ago, and he plans to play against the best until results or his 51-year-old body tell him it's time to compete against guys his own age.
'I probably won't play another Champions Tour event until the fall,' Funk said.
That means he will skip three majors on the Champions Tour. He wants to play Colonial, which is the same week as the Senior PGA. He will compete at the AT&T National in Washington the same week as the Senior U.S. Open. And if his next senior event is not until the fall, don't expect to see him at Muirfield for the Senior British Open.
'I want to make the Presidents Cup team,' Funk said.
That would be a long shot, since Funk is 29th in the standings. He figures he can't move up the list if he doesn't play.
'I want to see how long I can last out here,' Funk said. 'And as long as I feel like I have the game where I can contend and win on certain golf courses, I'm going to stay out here.'
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem doesn't like prize money to be a focal point of THE PLAYERS Championship, but it is difficult to ignore the record $9 million purse this week, first reported by the AP on Monday.
Jack Nicklaus won the first version of THE PLAYERS in 1974, and he was talking about the growth of the tournament at the grand opening of the clubhouse Tuesday night.
The conversation inevitably turned to money.
Nicklaus earned $50,000 for winning in '74 from a purse of $250,000.
'What's the purse this week?' he said to a room full of dignitaries, drawing a moment of uncomfortable silence as TOUR officials did not plan to announce the purse until Wednesday afternoon.
Someone finally told him it was $9 million.
'And what's first place?' Nicklaus continued. Another pause, followed by the answer of $1.62 million.
Nicklaus stared back at the official.
'What is that inflation? Cost of living?' he said.
Former PGA TOUR commissioner Deane Beman is the seventh winner of the PGA TOUR's Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors those who have made outstanding contributions to the TOUR.
Beman won four times on the PGA TOUR after having won the U.S. Amateur (twice) and the British Amateur. He became the second PGA TOUR commissioner in 1974 and served 20 years, during which he created the TPC network, The Players Championship and developed the Champions and Nationwide tours.
Beman was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2000.
'Deane Beman elevated the PGA TOUR to major sports stature,' his successor, Tim Finchem, said Wednesday. 'Deane did many things that others said could not be done, and we would not be standing here today at TPC Sawgrass if not for his drive and vision.'
Previous winners of the award, created in 1996, were Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Jack Burke Jr. and golf course architect Pete Dye.
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