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Players concerned over PGA Tour dominance

Former U.S. PGA champions Rich Beem and Steve Elkington have said the north American Tour must do more to ensure its prosperity does not strangle the professional game elsewhere in the world.

The 25th annual Australian Masters gets underway on Thursday at Melbourne's Huntingdale course amid growing doubts over the ability of the Australian tour to attract top-ranked players.

Elkington, who will be playing in his home country for the first time since the 1998 President's Cup, said the success of the U.S. PGA Tour was having a detrimental effect on golf in places like Australia.

"The more the U.S. Tour pushes the money out to $5-6million, they are trying to do good for golf but at the same time they are ruining golf around the world," the 1995 U.S. PGA winner told reporters on Wednesday ahead of the $910,000 event.

"The guys won't come back and play these tournaments if there is no money," the 40-year-old added. "I told (U.S. Tour commissioner) Tim Finchem they have to do something about the (U.S.) Tour because even though it is growing at a great rate, we are ruining world golf.

"I think the solution would have to be the world tour spreading out more."

American Beem said scheduling all four World Golf Championship (WGC) events in the U.S. this year was a missed opportunity.

"We've got all these golfers from around the world coming to play," the 2002 U.S. PGA champion told reporters in Melbourne.

"Why don't we go to Japan, come down to Australia, go over to Europe more? You've got to have at least one of those events somewhere else."

Beem said scheduling more top events outside the U.S. would not be popular with everyone, but would at least offer some variety in playing conditions.

"Unfortunately you are going to get a lot of U.S. players who are going to bitch and whine," the 33-year-old said.

"You play the golf courses in the U.S. and half the time I don't even go look at the golf course until the pro-am.

"In the U.S. we get a little spoilt over there. Sometimes we get looked upon as being prima donnas because we play some of the best courses in the world condition-wise every week.

"You want your course manicured so when it is shown on TV they can attract the best players."

Beem said he personally enjoyed the challenge of playing the varying conditions at tournaments like theOpen.

"You have to adjust your game for every single shot," he said. "Too much in America now, you get young players, all they want to do is hit long and high."

Melbourne's world number 18 Robert Allenby, defending champion Peter Lonard and their fellow Australian and world number 25 Adam Scott are among the local hopefuls in this week's tournament.

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