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No rule change imminent for Westwood

Golf Talk Central
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The growing rift between the PGA Tour and Lee Westwood took a new turn on Wednesday. In an interview with Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” cast, Ian Poulter said not having the world No. 1 at The Players is “a big miss.”

“Anybody in golf would change that right now to make sure they’re playing,” said Poulter, who appeared on the show after Westwood. “Do it in some way shape or form where they can play in what is globally known as the fifth major. . . . Whether you open it up to allow one extra event on the invite list or one extra event they can play, or allow that event to be exempt.”

Westwood, like Rory McIlroy, turned down his PGA Tour membership for 2011, which means he is only allowed to play in 10 tournaments, instead of the normal 12 events for non-members. The Tour later amended the rule to exempt The Players from that maximum but the Englishman had already committed to other events.

When asked if the Tour was considering any changes to its policies that would encourage players like Westwood to play full-time on both sides of the pond, Tour vice president of communications Ty Votaw said the circuit was not.

“We look at it every year, our rules as it applies to the 15 event (minimum) for members, 12 (maximum) for non-members and 11 for players like Lee and, to my knowledge, we haven't had any real conversations related to changing that,” Votaw said.

Specifically, Votaw was asked if the Tour was considering lowering the minimum number of events required for Tour membership (15), which may tempt players like Westwood to play both tours, or exempting top 10 players in the World Golf Ranking into as many events as they wish to play.

“None of that has been discussed,” he said.

Last month at Torrey Pines commissioner Tim Finchem was also asked about exempting a top-10 player from the Tour’s membership criteria.

“We're not going to try to juggle the rules to try to make this right now as a result of this,” Finchem said. “It's a long-term thing. We'll analyze it from a long-term standpoint.”