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PGA Tour says it has crossed $2 billion mark; Mickelson looking for multiple US Opens

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SAN DIEGO - Eight years after the PGA Tour crossed the $1 billion in charity, it announced another milestone Wednesday. Commissioner Tim Finchem said the tournaments and the tour now have contributed over $2 billion.

"When you consider that charity on the PGA Tour started with a $10,000 check in 1938 at the Palm Beach Invitational and 67 years later in 2005 we passed the $1 billion mark, I think it's a great testament to everybody involved in the current day tour that in just these past eight years, a second billion dollars was reached," Finchem said.

Finchem said the $2 billion does not include what he estimated to be $35 million in charitable donations from players and their foundations for the last year.

He said from now on, the tour would include players' own contributions.

"The $2 billion number is just a number, it's just a point in the road," he said. "The reason we decided to focus on it was because ... we can get more folks' attention. And if we can get more people's attention and they realize that when they buy a ticket, play in a pro-am, their company invests in hospitality, a percentage of those dollars is going to the bottom line, staying in the community."

Finchem said the charity money alone last year was $130 million.

Meanwhile, Finchem confirmed that the tour is urging its tournaments to beef up their reserve funds. The PGA Tour made it through the economic downturn of 2008-09 without too many hitches.

"It would be good for their security as they're growing the money they could give to charity to also make sure they're paying attention to reserves," he said. "Because we did do well in the downturn, but that doesn't mean we'll do well in the downturn of 2017 or 2018. We know there's going to be another one, that's the way it's been for eight years. So that the tournament can ride out those bumps, we want to work with them on their reserves but still continue to grow charity at the same time."

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WOODS AND VONN: Tiger Woods' playing schedule won't be affected by watching girlfriend Lindsey Vonn in the Olympics because the downhill skier is out with a knee injury. Woods still wouldn't reveal what he would be playing after he gets back from Dubai next month.

The only tournament he typically plays until the Florida swing is the Match Play Championship.

Woods and Vonn have spoken about the similarities they experience as athletes, even recovering from knee injuries. Woods has had four surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the U.S. Open in 2008.

But he's never had to deal with surgeries in consecutive years. "I've been through it, only a slightly different version," he said.

The difference is that Woods had four majors a year. The Olympics come around once every four years.

"The fact that she already has a gold medal and no one can ever take that away from her, and to be the first one (American) to ever win in the downhill, that's something no one can ever take away," he said. "Whether she competes this year or whether she competes four years from now, to be the first, no one can ever take that away from her."

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LEFTY AND SEVE: Phil Mickelson has spent a career playing money games with just about any player in the practice rounds.

Except for the late Seve Ballesteros.

Mickelson qualified to play at Torrey Pines as a teenager, and he played a practice round with Ballesteros, long of his favourite players. But they didn't play a match.

"I would have loved to have a game," Mickelson said. "He didn't keep score. He would hit two or three balls and he would pick up. I actually wanted a little game, but that didn't pan out."

Mickelson still has fond memories of the Spaniard.

"So often you'll look up to certain people and when you finally meet them it will be a letdown," Mickelson said. "But Seve was never a letdown. I had a chance to spend a lot of time with Seve over the years. We were with Hugo Boss in a number of photo shoots together, played practice rounds together, and from day one when I played with him he was gracious, classy, entertaining, exciting to watch and helpful. And he never was a letdown."

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US OPEN REVISITED:? Tiger Woods said the South Course at Torrey Pines reminds him of the 2008 U.S. Open.

"It's closer to an Open than how we normally play it," he said.

He said during his pro-am round Wednesday, he hit wedges and 9-irons that bounced nearly as high as the flagstick. Woods also said the rough was thick, not unusual except that's only thick when it's wet. This week has been warm and dry.

"If they keep the golf course like this it's going to be one hell of a test as the week progresses," Woods said. "It's going to get really difficult to post some good numbers, it's going to be awful difficult to get the ball close and make birdies. And as I said, it's closer to an Open right now than how I normally see it."

Asked if he found that good or bad, Woods smiled.

"I find it good," he said.

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