Players Championship snubs by top Europeans don't bother Finchem

rory mcilroy
Getty Images
Fast-rising star Rory McIlroy isn't planning to play TPC Sawgrass this spring, in part because he doesn't like the course and in part because of restrictions on how much he can play in the United States.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press


Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | 7:39 p.m.

Rory McIlroy won’t be at The Players Championship this year, making his intentions known in Twitter banter with Lee Westwood, who said last week he wouldn’t be going to golf’s richest tournament, either.

“I’ve decided no holes at sawgrass is better than my usual 36!” McIlroy tweeted, referring to his missed cut last year.

It appeared to be another slap at the PGA Tour from two European players who have decided not to take U.S. cards. Westwood said it wouldn’t make travel sense for him to go to The Players Championship without being able to play the week before in Quail Hollow because he is limited to 10 events on the PGA Tour.

McIlroy hinted two months ago he might skip The Players, mainly because he doesn’t feel he plays well on the TPC Sawgrass.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said he was disappointed, but not troubled by the decisions.

“I feel we’ll have an excellent field again,” Finchem said Tuesday. “It’s a premier tournament on a great golf course with a great pedigree of champions, the highest purse of the year. We’ll have a fantastic tournament. My only message to those guys is, you’re always welcome, and we’d love to have you back.”

There have been some suggestions in recent weeks that all tours should abandon policies that restrict how often players can compete if they are among the top 10 or even top 50 in the world.

Finchem sees no need for a change, and he doesn’t feel the PGA Tour is hurt by European players -- Westwood, McIlroy and PGA Champion Martin Kaymer are the most visible -- who don’t join the U.S. tour.

“Candidly, I’m disappointed about players not playing here … because it helps our field,” he said. “But on the other hand, I feel like we have the right mix of international players on the tour. I see no need for us to have more international players. I also feel strongly that the European Tour needs to be a strong tour. It’s a very good thing for golf globally.

“They have struggled more than we have with this (economic) downturn,” he said. “They’ve had to morph their schedule into the Middle East and now Asia to find markets to support their tour. I applaud that. Candidly, it’s probably more important on the European Tour that some of those players play over there than it is for us that they play here.”