Els, Saunders point to schedule, not players, for lack of star power at Bay Hill

Photo of Els, Saunders point to schedule, not players, for lack of star power at Bay Hill

With the PGA Tour heading to Bay Hill next week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the first time since the passing of Palmer back in September, many expected a loaded field.

However, that's not the case for tournament directors. Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, and Sergio Garcia won't be in attendance, which is supposed to be a week to honor the iconic golfer.

Sam Saunders, Palmer's grandson, believes the reason behind the lack of star power is the schedule, and the amount of big tournaments surrounding Bay Hill leading up to the Masters.

"I knew this question was going to come, and I've thought about it a good bit, and there is not an easy way to answer it. It is difficult," Saunders told Bob Harig of ESPN. "There are a lot of big tournaments sandwiched around each other right now."

Ernie Els, a two-time winner at Bay Hill in 1998 and 2010, feels the same way as Saunders does.

"The purse is up, but then the Tour has put in a World Golf Championship event last week, and guys need to rest," Els told Will Gray of the Golf Channel. "Then there's a WGC event after API, and then two weeks later you've got the Masters. So all of a sudden, you've got all these big events, and if they don't play the world events then all hell breaks loose."

Billy Horschel acknowledges the scheduling concerns, but tweeted his displeasure with the golfers not playing next week.

"You've got certain priorities that you have to try to meet, and some of the guys just can't do that. So you've got to take that for what it is. It's no disrespect to Mr. Palmer," Els said.

Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, and Hideki Matsuyama have all committed to playing at Bay Hill, while tournament directors still await the status of Tiger Woods.

Players have until Friday evening to commit to the tournament.

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