LA JOLLA, California (Reuters) - PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem believes the tour could do more for caddies but stood by the current system in the wake of a class action lawsuit filed this week.
Professional caddies filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour on Tuesday, contending they were forced to wear sponsored bibs that generate millions of dollars for the tour without receiving any compensation in return.
"The historical process is they are employees of the player. We think that's been a good system," Finchem told reporters ahead of this week's Farmers Insurance Open.
"The extent to which this lawsuit challenges that system, for whatever reasons they have in the lawsuit from a legal standpoint, it is what it is, but we would like to continue that system and let it go on."
The lawsuit, which claims the PGA Tour reaps over $50 million annually from bib endorsements, follows years of complaints from caddies on wide-ranging issues such as lack of access to health care and benefits and adequate on-site parking.
According to the lawsuit, the PGA Tour threatened to prevent the caddies from working at tournaments organized and promoted by the organization if they refused to wear the bibs.
"Over the last 15 years we, and our tournaments, have taken a number of steps to make the experience for a caddie as good as possible," said Finchem, who pointed to increasing purses for players as one benefit for caddies who usually make a percentage of their employer's winnings.
"We have made progress, but there's obviously things we can do better."
Editing by Frank Pingue