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Pros open to the idea of a '1-in-4' rule to play more tourneys

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The PGA Tour is considering instituting a policy that would require every golfer on tour to play every tournament on tour. It's called the "1 in 4 Rule." Even guys like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson would be forced to grace places like Greensboro, N.C. with their presence once every four years.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem recently even said he was "positively inclined" towards the rule, and, if the proposal can pass a second vote, it's on track for the Fall Series.

The primary principle behind this policy? Getting some love for the smaller tournaments. The downside? Making Tiger and Phil go places they don't want to.

There are other big name golfers, obviously, but those are the guys you hear principally mentioned by players when asked about the rule.

"I think it's great -- I think it's something we should do," Chris DiMarco told Yahoo! Sports. "The smaller places, the tournaments like here at Wyndham, deserve to see Phil and Tiger and get part of that too. It's huge for the tournament and it'd be great for us because we go into the deal with these companies and you say, ‘You're guaranteed Tiger or Phil one out of every four years.'"

That's the biggest boon for everyone involved. In an economic time when sponsorships are unsure of things (even if you have one, they could go all GMC on you), it greatly behooves the PGA Tour to make places like the Wyndham Championship marketable to, well, um, Wyndham, who just re-upped with Greensboro's golf tournament for a two-year deal.

"The reason we did a 2-year is that we're just in a situation economically -- people just aren't doing long-term deals," Kevin Rinker, SVP of Wyndham's Sports Marketing told Yahoo! Sports.

Rinker pointed out that it gives Wyndham an opportunity to reevaluate in 18 months, and part of that reexamination may be whether or not Greensboro's tournament gets an opportunity to change dates (the PGA seems obtusely unaware of how freaking warm it is in North Carolina during August).

"So, if the outcome of that is that there is something that says to the tour, 'Hey, we're serious about wanting to be around, we want a new date, we'll give you two years,'" Rinker added. "However they want to interpret that is up to them. Our goal was to do what's best for our business."

Part may also be that Wyndham's interested in seeing how the PGA handles the 1-in-4 institution. If a tournament like Greensboro's suddenly can guarantee that within the next four years Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will show up, that's not bad business at all.

Unless you're one of those golfers, anyway.

"I think a tournament like Greensboro needs to see Phil and Tiger and those guys," local product and Wake Forest graduate Bill Haas (pictured) told Yahoo! Sports. "But you can't ask them to play every week; it's not fair to those them to play every week -- I don't play every week and I'm not Tiger or Phil. So that's a hard thing to do, that's a hard thing to ask somebody who makes up the tour -- we're our own business people and if we only want to play 15 events, we can do that."

Haas' point is a salient one. Phil Mickelson (the brand) is big business. And, no offense to any of the smaller tournaments, but that biz has larger fish to fry than tournaments that don't offer the appropriate luster.

But it's not necessarily, as Haas pointed out, always the fault of the tournament for not having "big names."

"Maybe the tour needs to do -- instead of mandating [the 1-in-4 rule], they need to do a better job of promoting the players that aren't winning every week," Haas said. "They need to let the fans know that a guy that's 50th on the money list is one of the best players in the world -- the fan doesn't know that. I think the tour maybe does a poor job of that -- or not the tour, maybe the media. No, mainly the tour."

Haas compared the situations to other sports -- "baseball and basketball have multiple players that people know, and in baseball that makes up like 50 people and in golf you don't have that" -- before pointing out that if the casual fan was aware of the talent present with mid-tier golfers "then maybe there wouldn't be as much complaining about people not coming."

The Wake Forest grad has some legitimate beef too. He's currently 28th in the Fed Ex Cup standings and has seen marked improvement in both his ranking on the money list and the points standings each year since 2006.

But has his status as a sports celebrity risen? Probably not. His isn't the only viewpoint though. Young Webb Simpson (also a Wake grad) thought the tour was doing "as much as they can" in terms of marketing up-and-comers on tour.

"I think it'd be good for the best players in the world to eventually come in and visit the towns that need a little help from those guys," Simpson said about the 1-in-4. "But it's tough to say what's right because they've got their schedule so I can see it either way."

They do. Tiger has a schedule (one right now that's a little, ahem, up in the air) and a yearly plan when it comes to the tournaments he plays. So does Phil. So does Ernie Els.

But there are at least a good number of pros out there who are either in favor or aren't totally against the idea. Well, at least among the ones here at Greensboro, which is actually why Finchem is considering the 1-in-4 in the first place.

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