SBD/Issue 163/Events & Attractions

Finchem Pleased With The Players Championship's Move To May

Finchem Believes Players Championship's Move
From March To May Has Been A Success

The Players Championship teed off this morning at TPC Sawgrass, and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said he thinks the move of the event from March to May in '07 can be pronounced a success because it "hasn't hurt ticket sales," according to a Q&A with Garry Smits of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Finchem: "We've accomplished what we tried to set out to do. The only negative I can think of is that the local fan base here is used to the temperatures in March." Finchem added, "It's still a young event, but has had great quality of the champions. It's rooted here now, in May." Meanwhile, when asked about the "issue of whether it's accepted as a major championship," Finchem said, "People have the perception that I’ve stood on a soap box trying to make The Players a major, but I’ve been pretty consistent that we make it the best tournament we can and let others decide" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 5/3).

THE FIFTH MAJOR? FANHOUSE.com's Mick Elliott noted 27 of the top 30 golfers are scheduled to play in The Players, and the $1.71M first place prize is the "largest of the season." The event is often referred to as the "fifth major," but the three WGC events "were designed to bring the world's best players together and may carry greater global notoriety." Golfer Lee Westwood said the event "probably used to be regarded as the fifth major, and it felt that way back in the late '90s." Westwood: "But since the invention of the World Golf Championships, I think it's actually stepped back from that. They have to go in now before The Players Championship." However, Tiger Woods said The Players is "much bigger" than WGC events. Woods: "The field is so much deeper. Generally you probably get, what, 95 or above of the top 100 players in the world each and every year. And you don't really get that in all the World Golf Championships. Usually, the cutoff is around 50" (FANHOUSE.com, 5/4). Golfer Jim Furyk said, "Including the major championships, it is the best field in golf. ... It is an easy argument to battle this versus every other golf tournament. It is far and away, in my mind, the biggest event otherwise." Golf Channel's John Hawkins: "The whole fifth major thing kind of irks me, but that doesn't mean it is not one of the best events top to bottom that we play all year" ("19th Hole," Golf Channel, 5/5).

TURNING POINT: In Jacksonville, Roger Bull reports the Island Club at TPC Sawgrass, which "sat near the ninth green most years and developed a bit of a rowdy reputation," has been replaced by The Turn, which is "up on the hill" near the 9th and 18th holes. Tickets for The Turn, priced at $376 each for the week, "sold out quickly." The long tent "sells food at one end," the bar is in the middle, and it is "filled with lots of tables, with TVs scattered along the walls." There is a "terrace with three rows of seats overlooking the lake on the 18th, with the scoreboard visible right across the way." The "side overlooking the ninth doesn't have a terrace, just tables lining the windows." Perhaps "most importantly, it's air conditioned" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 5/6).

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