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PGA Tour purses likely to flatten in economic downturn

NEW YORK -- In golf terms, prize money on the PGA Tour could be going from a birdie to even par -- at best.

"I think over the course of the next several years, you'll see a flattening of purses," tour spokesman Ty Votaw said Wednesday. "We're pretty certain that we won't have the kind of growth that we have had over previous television cycles since 1996."

Tour purses were $70.7 million in 1996 and $278.95 million this year, including $214.4 million for the regular season. Next year's regular-season total will be $222.9 million.

"We have come through other down cycles in the past in some cases better than when we went in," he said. "We don't know how long this down cycle is going to last. We don't know if it's going to be a cycle or a long-term systemic malaise."

On another matter, Votaw said the start of testing for performance-enhancing drugs had gone as planned. Testing started July 1, and he said all test results from this year had come in.

"We've committed that we would announce if there's been any positives," he said. "There have been no announcements."

The PGA Tour remains hopeful that the International Olympic Committee will add golf to the program for the 2016 Olympics. Baseball, softball, golf, karate, squash, rugby and roller sports also are competing for two available berths. The IOC is scheduled to vote next year.

The PGA Championship might have to be moved to a different week if golf is selected.

"We will reschedule our major championships to accommodate golf in the Olympics in 2016," Votaw said.

Votaw said the tour also has spoken with John Daly, who has been without a tour card since 2006. Daly spent a night in jail in October, when police in Winston-Salem, N.C., said he appeared "extremely intoxicated."

"We certainly had conversations and discussions with John in the past when certain behavioral issues have come up," Votaw said. "We hope to not have many more of those conversations."

Votaw also said the tour has no plans to ban smoking at events, as has been done at the venues of some other sports.

"We play our sport on an expanse of geography that's a little bit different than contained stadium situations," he said. "But we did notice that at this year's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines that the public authorities there in San Diego banned smoking in the public areas."