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PGA Tour see no problems with Els schedule

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem sees nothing wrong with the amount of tournaments Ernie Els plays overseas, saying Monday that the three-time major winner is playing enough on the PGA Tour to satisfy its requirements.

Finchem's comments took some steam out of speculation there would be a showdown this week at the Tour Championship between the PGA Tour and Els, a 34-year-old South African who lives in London and has been playing a global schedule the last 10 years.

Els had said last month that he would meet with Finchem and the board. The Big Easy was frustrated over having to play more PGA Tour events to get additional releases for tournaments abroad.

``Don't start putting a padlock around me because that's not going to work,'' Els said at the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth.

Finchem said no meeting is planned.

``I don't know where that came from,'' Finchem said. ``We do not have a meeting scheduled. I'll probably see him around and chat with him like I typically do. But there isn't a reason to meet. He plays more than he has to play.''

PGA Tour members are allowed three releases to play overseas for every 15 tournaments they play on the PGA Tour. They must play five more events for each additional release, although the tour has shown flexibility to Els in past years, as it does to major champions who can seize on their fame and pursue appearance money.

Els played nine European tour events this year, not including World Golf Championships or majors. He won the Order of Merit for the second straight year.

``Would we like him to play more? Sure,'' Finchem said. ``We encourage every top player to play more. But he's not in violation of our regulations in the amount of golf he's playing. There are no regulation issues here. None.''

Els' agent did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Els first expressed frustration in July when asked about his performance over six consecutive weeks - starting in Dallas, two weeks in Europe, then the Memorial, Buick Classic and U.S. Open. He shot 80 in the final round at Shinnecock Hills.

He said he had to play an extra tournament to get his ``numbers up,'' presumably to satisfy tour requirements. Lately, Els has talked about a letter he received from the PGA Tour that he play more in the United States.

``There were some options in terms of his situation from a conflicting event standpoint that had to do with one tournament,'' Finchem said. ``But it had nothing to do with how much golf he was playing. Somehow, it got garbled in transmission or somebody in the press got a hold of it. I don't know how it happened.

``The staff will work it out. He and I don't have to sit down and work out any issues. There aren't any issues.''

Els will be playing for the 16th time on the PGA Tour this year at the Tour Championship. He withdrew from the Chrysler Championship last week because of a hand injury.

A year ago, the Big Easy played 17 times. The most he has ever played on the PGA Tour is 20 times in 2000.

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