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Beem, other players 'insulted' by less-than-full field

PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Saying he was "insulted" by the
prospect of Tiger Woods' new tournament being treated like an
invitational, Rich Beem said he would rally players against the PGA
Tour to make sure the event had a full field.

"It's the most totally wrong thing I've heard of in a long time
that's sticking it to the players," Beem said Thursday.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has said that the AT&T
National, to be played July 5-8 in Washington with Woods as the
host, likely would be considered along the lines of tournaments run
by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer that have limited fields.

The Memorial Tournament has a minimum of 105 players, while the
Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill has a minimum of 120
players, although 133 eligible players already have committed to
play next week in Orlando.

Finchem said several details have not been finalized for the
tournament, which will be run by the Tiger Woods Foundation.

"I've had some preliminary conversations with our board and I
have to believe that we will work with Tiger and the foundation to
fine-tune it," Finchem said at a press conference Wednesday. "But
my guess is that at the end of the day, the field size will be
commensurate with what you generally see in invitationals, which is
a somewhat limited field."

This caught several players by surprise.

"I was shocked when I heard that," Brad Faxon said. "We've
got players looking for spots, and we're replacing a tournament
that had a full field. With the amount of tournaments we have that
are invitationals, it doesn't make sense to do more."

Other invitationals on the PGA Tour include the MCI Heritage and
the Colonial. That doesn't include the three World Golf
Championships.

Faxon and Beem are part of the 16-member Player Advisory
Council, which reports to the tour's policy board.

PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said PAC input would be included
before Finchem makes a formal recommendation to the policy board.
The next scheduled meeting of the PAC is not until the end of
April.

This is the second time in the last five months that some
players have felt Finchem spoke too soon.

In November, the commissioner said the playoff events for the
FedEx Cup this year would have 144-man fields, with players being
mathematically eliminated from contention along the way, even
though they could still tee it up. In a revolt led by Tom Pernice
Jr., the tour changed course and decided to reduce the fields to
120 players, then 70 players until 30 players reached the Tour
Championship.

"We're trying to get back more spots throughout the year, and
all of a sudden we're going to have a limited-field tournament?
That goes against everything the players voted on with the playoff
system," Beem said. "If that stays the way it is, I promise you
there will be some action taken."

He said players can override the board if it gets support of 66
percent of the voting membership.

Meanwhile, policy board member Joe Ogilvie said the tour is
looking into making all invitationals more consistent in their
eligibility and the size of their field, which might add
opportunities for players throughout the FedEx Cup season.

Last year's tournament in the nation's capital was a 156-man
field, won by Ben Curtis on a Tuesday because of rain delays.

Finchem said the "prestige" of the new event would be one
reason for a shorter field. Another reason he mentioned was the
steamy conditions in Washington during Fourth of July week.

"We want the pace of play and the experience for the players to
be positive, as well," Finchem said. "So you put those two things
together, and it argues for a somewhat shorter field. And I think
that's where we'll be."