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GOLF NOTEBOOK: Changes in the air at Pebble Beach


The next PGA Tour policy board meeting could go a long way toward reshaping the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where it's played and how many players get into the field.

The tournament now features 180 teams (one pro, one amateur) that play at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills.

One recommendation is lower the field to 144 players, which some believe will alleviate the six-hour rounds or at least prevent three groups from stacking up on the par 5s. Poppy Hills, which has five par 5s, takes the longest to play.

The hangup?

"It's primarily amateur access," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "Everybody says, `Just charge more.' But what Pebble has done is create a network of people who support the tournament. Some are rotated in and out, and a lot of them write checks to the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, which has one of the best First Tee programs in the course."

"If you have less access, it could negatively impact that critical mass of activity that supports what you're doing."

The other component is the golf course, and among those mentioned as a replacement for Poppy Hills - the weak link in the rotation - is Cypress Point, rated among America's the best courses.

Cypress was dropped from the rotation in 1991 because of its exclusionary membership policies, which no longer is a problem.

The other possibilities are Bayonet, recently refurbished and considered among the toughest tracks in California, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club.

One other factor to consider is the strengthened relationship with the title sponsor and the world's No. 1 player. Tiger Woods now has a deal with AT&T to carry its logo on his golf bag. AT&T already sponsors his PGA Tour event in Washington.

Tiger Woods has not played the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am since 2002, but likely will return next year because the U.S. Open will be held at Pebble in 2010.

Tiger's tournament

The only complaint Woods had about his $5.75 million charity tournament in December was it was scheduled so close to Christmas that several top players chose not to play.

"The date after the Skins Game would be great," he said last year.

Woods got his wish.

The Chevron World Challenge, originally scheduled for the week before Christmas, has been moved up to Dec. 3-6, which tournament organizers hope will attract an even stronger field. Among those who skipped last year were Padraig Harrington, Trevor Immelman, Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy.

The Chevron World Challenge is held at Sherwood Country Club in Thousands Oaks, about a two-hour drive from the Skins Game (although the Skins Game also is looking for a title sponsor).







Read more at www.pasadenastarnews.com




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