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Tour Championships to return to end of season

The Tour Championship will return to its traditional place on the schedule as the final official event of the PGA Tour in 2001, commissioner Tim Finchem said today in announcing minor changes to the World Golf Championship series.

The Tour Championship, for only the top 30 on the PGA Tour money list, had been the final event since its inception in 1987.

That changed a year ago when the American Express Championship, the last of three $5 million WGC events, was played at Valderrama in southern Spain a week after the Tour Championship.

It also came a week after the Volvo Masters, the traditional season-ender on the European Tour. Players on both sides of the Atlantic complained, saying that an American could decide the winner of European money list, and vice-versa.

"It allows us to bring an end to the World Golf Championship series in a more definable way," Finchem said. "I think that was borne out that week. It makes sense to leave the season finale to the Tour Championship, which seems to have gotten more and more strength to it."

The American Express Championship, for the top 50 in the world and the leaders on five world tour's money lists, will follow the Tour Championship again this year.

Finchem said the 2001 American Express will be played in the United States sometime in September, sandwiched around the Ryder Cup in England. The tournament alternates between America and Europe.

Finchem also said moving up the last official WGC event will give the tour more options where to play it.

"In the U.S., it gives us virtually every place to play," he said. "Even though Valderrama was a great test and we look forward to 2000, when we go back in '02, it lets us look at Scotland and Ireland, which is where we'd like to be the next time."

As for the Match Play Championship in February, Finchem said the quarterfinals and semifinals will be played Saturday, with the 36-hole final Sunday.

In the inaugural event, the round of 16 and the quarterfinals were played Friday, with only the 18-hole semifinals played on Saturday.

 

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