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Phil Mickelson likes look of new PGA Tour schedule

The shorter PGA Tour season starting next year is not exactly what Phil Mickelson had in mind, but he said on Tuesday it likely would bring together the top players more often.

Mickelson recently suggested mandatory attendance for the stars at 20 tournaments each year.

The 2007 schedule, built around a points race called the FedEx Cup, will stack three "Championship Series" events at the end of the year, followed by a Tour Championship in September.

"We're going to play together more often -- not every tournament, though," Mickelson said at the Buick Invitational. "We'll have probably three or four more tournaments ... where the top guys will all play. But wouldn't it be great if we had 20 events where everybody played together? It would be cool."

Still, the Masters and PGA champion had few complaints.

He has been criticized in recent years for ending his season early, saying in 2004 that he had a tough time getting motivated after the majors were over. Late last year, he skipped the season-ending Tour Championship, and then skipped the tour's season-opening Mercedes Championships this month.

Mickelson said he would play next year all the way through the Tour Championship.

"The big thing for me is that I need an end point," Mickelson said. "I can go at it hard, with the idea that once you go to this point, you can take some time off. What I like now is there's an end point, as opposed to dragging on for 12 months and never having the point where you relax and say, 'OK, we're done for a while."'

Mickelson said he had no discussions about a shorter season with PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, saying he was approached with the idea at the Ryder Cup in 2004.

That was OK with him, too.

"I don't think players should be involved in the tour," Mickelson said. "I don't think we should have any say. I think it should be just like it happened. I think the commissioner should run the tour just like he did."

Several players in Hawaii said they felt left out of the loop during the decision to have a shorter season, and the tour's negotiations for a TV contract. But Mickelson offered praise for Champions Golf Club in Houston, which is run by Jack Burke Jr.

"It's one of the greatest clubs because Jackie Burke has a vision and he makes all of the decisions, and the club stays consistent with that thought process," he said. "I think it's a great way to run a golf club, and it would be a great way to run the tour."

Mickelson tied for fifth last week in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, the start of a year in which he will play six of the first seven tournaments through the Ford Championship at Doral in March.

Tiger Woods makes his 2006 debut this week at Torrey Pines, where he is the defending champion, but the top five players in the world will not be at the same event until the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa during the last week in February.

"I just wish we would play against each other more often," Mickelson said. "I think the new schedule in '07 does that. Not as much as I would like, but it does it more."

Mickelson's idea of the top players in 20 events a year was reminiscent of Greg Norman's plan for a world tour in 1994, when the Shark proposed a series of tournaments for the top 30 or 40 in the world.

That plan gave way to what is now the World Golf Championships, run by the tour.

"He's a brilliant individual and he's one of the guys that I respect the most, because of a lot of the decisions and ideas he has," Mickelson said of Norman. "I know that we somewhat stole the idea to make the World Golf Championships. So there you go. It must have been a pretty good idea."

January 25, 2006

 




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