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US Professional Golf Aims for More Excitement

The U.S. Professional Golfers Association Tour has announced this week that it will introduce a new playoff system in 2007. The move will take the top golfers and make them eligible for a season-ending championship to create a dramatic finish similar to other American sports leagues.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem disclosed the radical changes Wednesday during his State of the Tour, although he said most of the details would not be completed until next year. He says the increasing success of other sports competing for attention made it necessary for the PGA Tour to keep itself in front of fans. "While so many things have gone so well, and our underpinning strength is so strong, we recognize the competition has gotten stronger as well. Virtually every other sport is investing significant sums in attracting fans to their competitions. And we have to do the same," he said.

Starting in 2007, the new schedule will be built around a new competition called the FedEx Cup. Players will earn points for their performances from January through August, with those at the top of the standings eligible for the season-ending playoff. The FedEx Cup champion would be determined in a four-tournament finale ending with the Tour Championship in September.

The idea is to finish the tour's major events before the start of the professional American football season. American golfer Fred Funk thinks that timing is a good idea. "No one can really compete with college and professional football in the fall. So we are trying to get a big hit at the end. And then follow that up with the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup years, depending on which year it is. And then we will have six or seven tournaments after that for the guys who still need to get enough money to keep their (Tour) card," he said.

Commissioner Finchem did not say how many players would be eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs.