CONCORD, Mass. -- Champions Tour president Rick George
doesn't think the over-50 golf circuit has a problem with
performance-enhancing drugs. Even so, it will follow whatever
steroid policy the PGA Tour comes up with.
"We'll adopt whatever policies the PGA Tour does," George said
Monday during a midseason report on the state of the tour. "I
certainly don't [think it's a problem]. But I think if the tour
adopts a policy, it's important that the Champions Tour adopt the
PGA commissioner Tim Finchem said last week his tour is getting
closer to a policy banning performance-enhancing drugs, with
testing likely to follow. The LPGA Tour and European Tour have
announced plans to implement new policies in 2008.
With players as old as 78-year-old Arnold Palmer riding carts
for 54-hole events, the Champions Tour might seem to be far removed
from scandals that have rocked more youthful endeavors like
cycling, track and field, and baseball.
"We do use a lot of Advil out here," tour spokesman Michael
George spoke at the Nashawtuc Country Club on Monday, the day
after Jay Haas won the Bank of America Championship for his fourth
Champions Tour victory of the season. Haas is the only multiple
winner on the tour this year.
He's not the only one doing well.
The tour has resumed its growth after struggling during the
early part of this century, George said. Low-performing events were
weeded out, which had the added benefit of improving the remaining
fields by building weeks off into the schedule.
Television ratings are up 20 percent and attendance is up 35
percent midway through the schedule.
"It's probably never been in as good a position as it is
today," George said.
Also Monday, the tour announced its 2008 schedule of 29 events,
including a new tournament at a course Jack Nicklaus designed in
the Dominican Republic. A 30th event might be added later.
George noted that in some past years the tour hasn't been able
to release its schedule until December.
"Being able to release our schedule this early speaks to the
solid foundation of this tour," he said.
The average purse for '08 will be a record $1.9 million. Every
tournament will be televised, with six on network TV.