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PGA Tour gets around appearance money

Appearance money is not allowed on the PGA Tour, but there were murmurs when the field at the 84 Lumber Classic in western Pennsylvania last September originally included Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods, a rare 1-2 punch in a fall tournament.

Both players have financial ties to 84 Lumber founder Joe Hardy.

Woods agreed in 1997 to play three charity events for a reported $1.7 million on the Mystic Rock course. At the time, Hardy was trying to lure a PGA Tour event to his Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, but only one of the 18-hole exhibitions was played. Five years later, Nemacolin had a tour stop.

Woods decided to play in the second edition of the 84 Lumber Classic this year, although he wound up pulling out by saying he was too tired from the Ryder Cup.

Singh played in the 84 Lumber Classic last year, then returned in June to play a nine-hole exhibition with Rocco Mediate on a revamped Mystic Rock course. Singh and Hardy hit it off, and the Fijian signed an endorsement deal with 84 Lumber on the eve of the tournament.

The deals might smack of backdoor appearance money, but the PGA Tour says they are above board.

"We have several players with a personal services contract with companies that are title sponsors,'' said Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA Tour. "We do not let them enter into contracts that include language tied to tournament appearances or commitments. We're comfortable (Singh's) contract does not have that language.''

What looks like appearance money is simply good business.

Woods renewed his five-year deal with Buick earlier this year. He has played in at least two of the four Buick-sponsored tour events since 1999, although Woods has said tournament appearances are not in his contract.

Ditto for Phil Mickelson, who signed with Ford about the time the automaker signed up as title sponsor for Doral. Mickelson played Doral in March for the first time in four years.

John Daly also has an endorsement deal with 84 Lumber. Along with playing the tournament, he has become one of the biggest promoters of the event.

"It makes good business sense (for players) to be there,'' Hughes said. "But we don't allow contractual requirements that tie into competing.''

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