Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

IMG Letter Promotes Violation of Tour Rules

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

IMG Letter Promotes Violation of Tour Rules

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, The Times-Union

PALM BEACH GARDENS -- Davis Love III said "there will be some hands slapped" over a controversial letter sent to PGA Tour tournament directors by IMG that promises to deliver top players for paid outings the Monday preceding Tour stops, with hints that those players will stay to compete in the competitive events.

The IMG letter was obtained by Golf World magazine this week. Most of the players on the list are IMG clients, such as Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Sergio Garcia, but others are not represented by IMG -- such as Love, Fred Couples and John Daly.

Tiger Woods, the most famous IMG client, is not on the list.

The letter also implies that players will consider going to events they normally don't play, if the tournament sponsors agree to the arrangement. The Tour forbids players receiving appearance money, although the practice is used in some international events.

The Tour rule reads: "Neither players, nor other individuals acting on such players' behalf, shall solicit or accept any compensation, gratuity or other things of value offered for the purpose of guaranteeing their appearances at any PGA Tour co-sponsored, approved or coordinated tournament."

Love said it is not unusual for players represented by other agents to appear in tournaments owned or managed by IMG, such as the Casio World Match Play. But he said the letter appears to run counter to the long-standing rule.

"This has the appearance of appearance money," said Love, a St. Simons Island, Ga., resident and one of four players on the PGA Tour Policy Board. "Our rules are very clear and they are going to be reinforced and restated to all of the parties. Somebody [IMG] was misrepresenting the players and somebody stepped over their bounds, and it wasn't anybody with any association with the Tour."

Love said he didn't want the PGA Tour to run into the problems tennis has with appearance fees, where top players often receive more to simply enter the tournament than the eventual winner will get.

The issue began with the news of an outing Ford sponsored last week, three days before the Ford Championship at Doral began, which paid $150,000 each to Singh, Garcia, Goosen and Padraig Harrington. …

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