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FedExCup looking good for the PGA Tour

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem says the inaugural FedExCup playoff series will be able to celebrate an auspicious start if the last two events match the success of the first two.

Despite the withdrawal of high-profile players over the last three weeks and adverse comments made by Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els, Finchem believes the "big picture" looks rosy for the season's four-tournament finale.

"Unless I'm way off, if the next two weeks play out as strong as the first two weeks, we've got a very successful Cup," Finchem told reporters in Lemont, Illinois on the eve of the BMW Championship, the penultimate playoff event.

"In my strong view, it's accomplishing what it set out to do: create a better end-of-season, some really powerful events in business markets around the country, get the best players playing and, most importantly, give the fans something they can enjoy."

Last week's Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Massachusetts featured a thrilling head-to-head between the game's top two players before Mickelson triumphed by two strokes with Tiger Woods tying for second place.

One week earlier, American Steve Stricker clinched the Barclays Classic with birdies on the last three holes.

"There are things that can be improved, just like a golf tournament," Finchem said. "You write down 82 things at the end of the tournament that could be done better, and the next thing you get 30 of them done and then the list goes back to 80."

Finchem said he had spoken to FedExCup points leader and world number two Mickelson, a notable absentee from Cog Hill Golf and Country Club this week for family reasons.

"He made it clear the reasons that he decided not to play," Finchem added. "He's got a 2,500-point lead and he's going to be in this thing next week under any set of circumstances."

The playoff series ends next week with a limited field of 30 at the $7 million Tour Championship in Atlanta where a $10 million bonus in deferred compensation will be earned by the overall champion.

Asked whether he was disappointed that Mickelson, Woods, who skipped the opening event, or Els, who was absent last week, could clinch the FedExCup without playing in all four legs, Finchem replied, "Yes and no.

"First of all, it's part of our sport. These players are not under contract to do anything. It's their call, and I think fans generally recognize that.

"But I also think that when the fans look back on this first year, they're going to think of it as what it was: a multiple number of events and what's my reaction to who won and did they play the best over the four weeks and how exciting were the pieces?"


September 6, 2007

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