features only two players from top 50... but that will change soon

Billy Horschel is the only player in the field this week who qualified for the Tour Championship.
Sam Greenwood / Getty Images

SAN MARTIN, Calif. (AP) - The PGA Tour season gets underway this week at the Open, the first time the tour has gone to a wraparound season. And while the field might not look that strong on paper, odds are that will change.

The tournament has three players from the Presidents Cup (Hideki Matsuyama, Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman - along with assistant captain Davis Love III). It has two from the top 50 in the world (Matsuyama at No. 30 and defending champion Jonas Blixt at No. 34), and one player who was at the Tour Championship (Billy Horschel).

How might that change?

A year ago, eight PGA Tour members took part in an exhibition in Turkey called the World Golf Finals, held the same week as the Open. In exchange for a release from the tour, they agreed to play the Open at least once over the next three years.

Those players were Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar. Open president Duke Butler recalls a similar situation nearly 30 years ago. The PGA Tour granted releases to four players to play the Australian Skins Game in 1985 when it was held the same week as the Houston Open. The players agreed to play Houston at least once over the next few years.

Those players could be called headliners - Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman.

The next year, the Houston Open included Nicklaus in his first start since winning the Masters for his sixth green jacket, one of the most popular wins in golf. DIVOTS: Ernie Dunlevie, one of the founding fathers of the 1960 Palm Springs Golf Classic now known as the Humana Challenge, died Sunday of cancer at 96. Dunlevie was the last surviving founding board member. ... Bill Haas on playing the Presidents Cup twice with his father, Jay, as an assistant captain: Evidence of the new season could be found on the range at CordeValle. Carl Pettersson, who has been with Nike most of his career, has switched to TaylorMade clubs and the Titleist golf ball. He said he could have renewed but it was time for a change. ... Michael Antolini, who was director of business development for the PGA Tour, has been appointed director of the Deutsche Bank Championship.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Henrik Stenson of Sweden was chosen as the Race to Dubai golfer of the month for September on the European Tour based on his two wins in America.

FINAL WORD: ``It's one of the few times that I'm treated as a peer by my dad and not his son.'' - Bill Haas, on playing the Presidents Cup with his father, Jay, as an assistant captain.

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