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June 30, 2011

Finchem doesn't expect minimum events rule to change soon

Posted at 12:30 PM by Scott Miller | Categories: PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy, Tim Finchem

June30-Tim-Finchem_300x196 NEWTON SQUARE, Pa. - PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday that he didn't expect any changes this year to the Tour 's rule requiring members to play a minimum of 15 events.

"I wouldn't say it's the first thing on our agenda," Finchem said from suburban Philadelphia, site of this week's AT& T National. "We actually are reasonably comfortable with the rules and regs that we've enjoyed for the last 15 years or so."

Under the current system, PGA Tour member are required to play at least 15 tournaments per year, while non-members are allowed a maximum of 12 events. But players such as U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, who gave up their Tour memberships, are only allowed to play in 10 events, plus the Players Championship.

That has led to some odd situations, including Rory McIlroy's needing a sponsor exemption this year to play at Quail Hollow, where he fired a final-round 62 to win in 2010. Finchem was asked Wednesday  about "possibly exempting players on the top 10 in the world into whatever events that they wanted to play," but he said it wasn't that simple. Finchem said he doesn't just look at the effect it has on the PGA Tour; he also considers what impact a rule change would have on the global health of the game.

"If we're successful in changing rules so that a player, an international player, can play four or five more times here, three times here, that's great for those weeks here; it means that he's not going to play three or four times someplace else," Finchem said. "So we can't just make decisions based on what's in the best short-term interest for our Tour. I think we have to keep in mind why the strength of the other tours is important, certainly why growth of the game globally is important, particularly as we enter into the Olympic era for golf."

Photo: Barbara Johnston/AP

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