Tournaments opposite marquee events still crucial

MADISON, Miss. -- PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem says he
doesn't agree with some of golf's marquee players who think the
tour should not hold two events in the same week.

Finchem was at Annandale Golf Club on Thursday for the first
round of the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. In Atlanta, the top 30
players on the money list played the first round of the Tour

''You get to the end of the year and we have a special
tournament, it's easy to see how you would want that to be unique
to that week,'' Finchem said. ''On the other hand, we try to create
as many playing opportunities as we can for players.''

David Duval, who did not qualify for the Tour Championship,
briefly considered playing in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, but
decided against it.

''I can't play,'' Duval said recently. ''That would go against
everything I believe in.''

Duval, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are among those staunchly
opposed to the PGA Tour holding two tournaments in one week. It
happened five times this year -- six including the Texas Open, held
opposite the Ryder Cup.

Tournaments also were held the same weeks as three World Golf
Championships and the British Open.

Finchem said the Southern Farm Bureau Classic isn't a trivial
tournament. Many players here are trying to earn playing privileges
for next season by finishing in the top 125 on the money list and
avoid Q School.

''These players are still playing for stuff that's pretty
important. We have looked from time to time at maybe moving this
tournament over, but right now our focus is this week,'' he said.

''And also players like playing here. It's a good golf course,
good tournament. Players love the hospitality.''

The Southern Farm Bureau Classic was played during the summer
until 1998, but the searing Mississippi heat often kept players
away. Then it was played the same weekend as the British Open.

''This time of year works really good, because of the weather
conditions, the golf course conditions. Most years the weather here
this time of years is really good,'' Finchem said. ''We hope to
announce our schedule in the middle of November, but our plan is to
be here next year.''