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Olazabal may be planning to join US PGA Tour

Two-time Masters champion José Maria Olazábal plans to join the PGA Tour because he feels he's treated as a second-rate golf player in the European circuit, news reports said Friday.

"To be a player without a name in Europe, we would rather be a figure in the United States," his manager, Sergio Gomez, was quoted as saying in the Madrid daily El Pais.

Olazábal's discontent has various sources.

A European Tour decision to change the eligibility rules for the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational favored players who predominantly play the European Tour. Sweden's Jesper Parnevik, who plays primarily on the PGA TOUR, and Spain's Sergio Garcia protested publicly and the European Tour negotiated with them.

But there were no negotiations with Olazábal, according to Gomez.

Gomez also said that the 34-year-old Spaniard feels mistreated in the television coverage of the European Tour tournaments.

Olazábal, who has five PGA Tour wins, has two avenues to the PGA Tour. He could join this season as a special temporary member when his 2000 Tour earnings reach $185,299 -- which corresponds to the 150th eligibility position on the 1999 money list. He currently has earned $10,649.33 in three Tour starts.

As the 1999 Masters champion, Olazábal could also join at the end of the season. He would have three years of his five-year eligibility for winning the Masters remaining. He would not have to attend Q-School.


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