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Jonathan Kaye returns after long injury

Jonathan Kaye was five shots out of the lead going into the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and already in a mood to celebrate.

"My first cut in more than a year. I'm ecstatic," he said. "My first paycheck in more than a year."

Sadly, it wasn't the size he had hoped.

Kaye, who missed all of last year with a toe injury, closed with a 78 while playing with actor Thomas Gibson ("Criminal Minds") and tied for 53rd to earn $13,824, a small start toward trying to keep his card under tough circumstances.

Kaye, once ranked as high as No. 14 in the world, finished out of the top 125 on the money list and headed back to Q-school, where he tied for 29th to earn his card. But a right big toe that had been bothering him a few years reached the point where he had surgery, and he didn't play another tournament until the Sony Open at the start of year.

That puts his status behind all the Q-school and Nationwide grads, making it tough to get into tournaments.

"It was nice," Kaye said of his time off. "But I missed having a job."

The tour surely didn't miss having Kaye out of action for the year, and it wasn't long before he revved up on a litany of complaints, particularly the new anti-doping policy.

Kaye joined a small faction of players who believe players should form a union.

"I don't see a need for it. I don't think anyone is on steroids," he said. "They're opening themselves up for a stringer, especially if we don't have a players' union, or a universal voice where we can be heard, instead of being squashed by a dictator."

That would be PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, with whom Kaye has crossed frequently.

His most notorious incident, which led to a four-month suspension, came in Kingsmill in 2001 when a security guard asked to see Kaye's tour badge. According to several published accounts, Kaye returned to his car and displayed the badge below the belt.

"I got the largest suspension ever on tour ... for what?" he said. "I lose my job, and I lose my sponsorship. I felt the brunt of the tour when they're trying to squash you. I felt like Brian McNamee."

He also doesn't like the new cut policy, and when told the Players Advisory Council would be meeting Tuesday at Riviera, that didn't seem to allay his concerns.

"There's not one person on the PAC that I voted for," Kaye said.

Uh, welcome back, Jonathan.


February 13, 2008

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