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One-on-One with Tim Finchem

This reporter spoke at length with PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem Tuesday night in a one-on-one interview during which Finchem both expounded and expanded On Tuesdays news out of TOUR headquarters in Florida.
Finchem was amused when I suggested that Phil Mickelson might want to know if the nine million in cash that will go to the 2008 FedExCup winner will be wheelbarrowed out to the 18th green. Probably, Finchem said, not.
Finchem also told me he did not think subtracting FedExCup points from players who do not show for playoff events would be a viable option in 2008.
And he reiterated that he doesnt think the TOUR should be in the drug testing business, he said, because it runs counter to the culture of the sport. But, he added, he understands that golf, like all high profile sports in this day and age, must be like Caesars wife'above suspicion.
Were going to do drug testing, Finchem said. And were going to do it right.
Now that the PGA TOUR has decided $9 million of the FedExCup winners $10 million first-place share will be cold, hard cash in 2008, more details are trickling out of Dubai about the $20 million that will be distributed in a European Tour event at the end of 2009.
Sources have told GOLF CHANNEL that $10 million of the yet unnamed event will go toward the purse for the tournament and $10 more will go towards a player pool to be distributed.
One of the big questions is would this big money attract world No. 1 Tiger Woods, who is currently building his first golf course in Dubai. Sources say invitations to the event will come off the Order of Merit, which probably means Woods would have to take his Euro Tour card to qualify. Phil Mickelsons victory in China last week would have put him at the top of the Order of Merit since the event was the first official tournament on the 2008 Euro schedule.
Since Mickelson is not a member, the current No. 1s on the Order of Merit are Lee Westwood and Ross Fisher, the two players Mickelson beat in a playoff in China. The minimum number of events to keep a European card is 11 (that includes the four majors and three WGC tournaments).
Regardless, $20 million is a staggering sum to play for in one week. The world of golfs going to change massively in the next few years, said one highly-placed European source with knowledge of the Dubai deal.
But maybe $20 million is not so staggering when you consider that the six gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have made a reported $1.5 trillion from oil in the last four years. Thats $1.5 trillion as in a 15 followed by 11 zeroes.
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said he was delighted at the reported size of the purse because, he said, the compensation levels for the worlds top golfers still trail those of athletes in the major team sports.
As to the $1.5 trillion figure, Finchem cracked, maybe 20 million isnt so much after all.
More details are expected at a press conference in Dubai next Monday.
It was reported in this space last week that Natalie Gulbis and her representatives were unhappy about a story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch saying, among other things, that Gulbis was changing her image. The newspaper based much of its story on quotes from a Gulbis marketing representative.
A spokesperson for Gulbis subsequently told GOLF CHANNEL that Gulbis was not re-branding and that the newspaper had gotten the story wrong.
For the record, the Times-Dispatch says it has a tape recording of the interview with the Gulbis marketing representative and stands by its original story.
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