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Shotlink battle for PGA Tour ahead

When the PGA Tour first introduced Shotlink, the statistics-oriented scoring system that tracks each shot by player, caddies scoffed at being asked to supply club selection without compensation.

Now that Shotlink is fully operational and capable of making money, they might not have a choice.

The Tour's latest proposal is for caddies or players to carry a green index card that fits in their yardage books. They are to fill out club selection of every shot during or after the round.

Another test will take place this week in the Chrysler Championship, and the Tour says everyone must do it at the season-opening Mercedes Championships next year at Kapalua.

While the Tour is working with caddies, the responsibility will fall to the players.

``It's not a matter of choosing,'' said Henry Hughes, the Tour's chief of operations. ``It's going to be part of their day, like turning in a scorecard.''

And what if the players don't go along with the plan?

``There would be some action that would have to be taken,'' Hughes said, although he declined to confirm speculation by some caddies that players would be fined for conduct unbecoming a professional if the card wasn't turned in.

Most caddies are not inclined to help, claiming they don't work for the Tour and that an extra assignment could take away from their responsibilities to their players. They also don't believe the Tour has treated them well when it comes to better parking and services at a tournament, among other things.

Still, most said they would do it if instructed by the player.

``I'll probably just do it,'' Jeff Sluman said. ``Are their days I won't want to do it? Yeah. Maybe I've had a rough day, and at the end of the round, I'm not going to want to sit there and fill it out.''

The Tour has not spoken to Tiger Woods about club selection, and his caddie, Steve Williams, is as stubborn as anyone when it comes to obeying a Tour edict. Williams routinely paid fines for not wearing authorized shorts.

Getting Woods to buy into the plan will be crucial, because one reason for having club selection is to market an interactive game with EA Sports.

The Tour could get by without club selection at the inception of Shotlink two years ago. The system still gives exact yardage and length of putts.

Now, however, the Tour needs to start recouping some of its investment.

``We're starting to have revenue-producing items,'' Hughes said. ``To enhance that, we're at the point where club selection is more critical.''

The key is getting everyone to go along.

Hughes maintains that more money for the Tour means more money for the players, which eventually is passed along to the caddies.

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