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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 February 2006, 22:20 GMT
PGA Tour chief defends US dates
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem
Finchem says US venues are still best for WGC events
Tim Finchem, the PGA Tour boss, has defended the fact America stages most World Golf Championship events.

Finchem's words come on the day it was confirmed that the WGC-Match Play will move from California to Arizona.

Earlier this month, European Tour veteran Jamie Spence said: "The Americans seem to be getting more insular every year."

But Finchem denied this and said the US still provided the best possible platform for the world's best golfers.

Since it launched the World Championship series in 1999, the Match Play has been held outside the US only once - in Australia in 2001 when almost 40 eligible players did not make the trip.

Ernie Els gets more global television exposure when he plays here this week than he does when he plays in China or Hong Kong
Tom Finchem
PGA Tour chief
The first seven NEC World Championships have all been held in America and the American Express Championship - being held at The Grove near Watford this September and twice staged in Ireland and Spain - will return to the States in 2007.

The World Cup, now part of the series, has taken place in Argentina, Japan, Mexico, Spain and Portugal, but has struggled to attract the top players.

The WGC-Match Play is moving to The Gallery Golf Club outside Tucson and will stay there for at least four years.

But Finchem said the World Championships are meeting their aim of enhancing "the competitive structure of professional golf worldwide while preserving the traditions and strengths of the individual tour and their events".

He said: "I think the primary reason for the World Golf Championships was to create a vehicle whereby the fans could watch all the best players in the world assembled a more frequent number of times.

"The secondary mission was to grow interest in the game by focusing on the global aspects of the game. I think that mission is being met as well.

Wales duo Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge
Dodd and Dredge won the WGC-World Cup for Wales in Algarve
"We would like to see World Golf Championships played around the world and we have seen that. I think we've played on five different continents.

"We may add another World Championship, but the fundamental thing is to bring to the world, via incredible television capability to 145 countries, all the best players in the world.

"The reality is that Sergio Garcia when he plays (he was an absentee at this year's Match Play) is seen by more people than typically any other event he plays - regardless of where it is, whether in Europe or Asia or anywhere else.

"Ernie Els gets more global television exposure when he plays here this week than he does when he plays in China or Hong Kong.

"So it sounds good to say if you played more places you'd reach more people, but the reality is that that's not always the case.

"The second part is that these championships are staged somewhere that can pay for worldwide television and significant prize money.

"That costs money and the American marketplace is best suited to generate those kind of resources."


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