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Match Play Championship may lead La Costa

Another week of swampy conditions at La Costa Resort last week increased speculation that the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship would be leaving after 2006, the end of the current TV contract.

One thing is clear: It won't be leaving the United States.

"We'll take a look at all the factors,'' said James Murphy, global managing director of marketing and communications for Accenture. "But we desire to have our tournament in the United States.''

The sponsor prefers to be at a resort, with plenty of golf courses nearby to entertain clients. One place under consideration -- if Accenture wants to leave La Costa -- is Arizona.

It might not work to be close to Phoenix just a few weeks after the FBR Open, although one possibility is Tucson, which is played at the Omni Resort and has continued to raise significant money for charity despite being an opposite-field event since the World Golf Championships began in 1999.

PRO-AM POLICY: The PGA Tour plans to reconsider the pro-am policy that knocked Retief Goosen out of the Nissan Open, but don't expect officials to make a substantial change -- if any.

Goosen overslept and missed his pro-am time at Riviera by about 20 minutes. Under a PGA Tour policy adopted at the start of the 2004 season, players are ineligible to play if they don't participate in the pro-am without a legitimate excuse (documented injury, family emergency).

But it was quite a jolt for the Nissan Open to lose the reigning U.S. Open champion.

"We will take another look at it,'' PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said. "But the reality is, the rule was put into effect and it accomplished its mission. And you can't argue with that.''

Some have suggested giving players one free pass a year, but Finchem said the tour has been down that road before.

"We didn't have a situation that led to this problem with one or two players taking off 10 weeks,'' he said. "We had a lot of guys taking off. A free pass means a lot of guys are going to take a free pass.''

Finchem said it's possible that certain situations might arise when the rule needs to be relaxed -- perhaps a guy who traveled through eight time zones to play at Riviera.

"But what's clear to me is you need to be careful about relaxing the rule, because you open up a Pandora's box of 'Well, if this happens over here, how comes this can't happen?' We're going to take another look at it, but I don't know how it's going to come out.''

 

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