CONCORD, Mass.(AP) Champions Tour president Rick George doesn’t think the over-50 golf circuit has a problem with performance-enhancing drugs. Even so, it will follow whatever steroid policy the PGA Tour comes up with.
“We’ll adopt whatever policies the PGA Tour does,”‘ George said Monday during a midseason report on the state of the tour. “I certainly don’t (think it’s a problem). But I think if the tour adopts a policy, it’s important that the Champions Tour adopt the same policy.”
PGA commissioner Tim Finchem said last week his tour is getting closer to a policy banning performance-enhancing drugs, with testing likely to follow. The LPGA Tour and European Tour have announced plans to implement new policies in 2008.
With players as old as 78-year-old Arnold Palmer riding carts for 54-hole events, the Champions Tour might seem to be far removed from scandals that have rocked more youthful endeavors like cycling, track and field, and baseball.
“We do use a lot of Advil out here,” tour spokesman Michael McPhillips said.
George spoke at the Nashawtuc Country Club on Monday, the day after Jay Haas won the Bank of America Championship for his fourth Champions Tour victory of the season. Haas is the only multiple winner on the tour this year.
He’s not the only one doing well.
The tour has resumed its growth after struggling during the early part of this century, George said. Low-performing events were weeded out, which had the added benefit of improving the remaining fields by building weeks off into the schedule.
Television ratings are up 20 percent and attendance is up 35 percent midway through the schedule.
“It’s probably never been in as good a position as it is today,” George said.
Also Monday, the tour announced its 2008 schedule of 29 events, including a new tournament at a course Jack Nicklaus designed in the Dominican Republic. A 30th event might be added later.
George noted that in some past years the tour hasn’t been able to release its schedule until December.
“Being able to release our schedule this early speaks to the solid foundation of this tour,” he said.
The average purse for ’08 will be a record $1.9 million. Every tournament will be televised, with six on network TV.