While two-time defending champion Craig Stadler and three of the year's five top money winners on the PGA Tour are committed to playing in next month's Kemper Open, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Calvin Peete, Seve Ballesteros, Raymond Floyd, Ben Crenshaw and Johnny Miller will not compete.
Lanny Wadkins, No. 1 on the money list with $243,019 through last week's Houston Open, is uncommitted, but is expected to play, according to tournament director Labron Harris Jr.
According to a survey by Harris, other tournament officials and player agents yesterday, nine of the top 25 players on the money list will play, 10 will not and six are undecided.
No. 2 Hal Sutton, who is $3,500 behind Wadkins in 1983 earnings, is entered, as are No. 4 Tom Kite, No. 5 Gil Morgan, No. 8 Fuzzy Zoeller, No. 9 Bob Eastwood, No. 10 Stadler, No. 14 Bob Gilder, No. 18 Ed Fiori and No. 20 John Cook.
Other top players already committed to playing in the June 2-5 tournament at Congressional Country Club are former champion John Mahaffey, Andy Bean, Lon Hinkle, George Burns, Lee Elder, Bobby Clampett, Peter Jacobsen and Scott Hoch.
Besides Wadkins, players among the top 25 money winners still undecided are No. 11 Rex Caldwell, No. 13 David Graham, No. 16 Bill Rogers, No. 19 Jay Haas and No. 24 Gary Koch.
Those among the top 25 money winners who have decided not to play here are No. 3 Crenshaw, No. 6 Floyd, No. 7 Miller, No. 12 Keith Fergus, No. 15 Ballesteros, No. 17 Nicklaus, No. 21 Watson, No. 22 Isao Aoki, No. 23 Peete and No. 25 Bruce Lietzke.
Reasons vary as to why the biggest names, plus such gallery favorites as Arnold Palmer and Tom Weiskopf, are passing up the $400,000 tournament:
* Peete, whose is represented by International Management Group of Cleveland, is playing in the British Masters, a tournament promoted by IMG.
* Nicklaus, who played in the Kemper for the first time last year, will be attending his daughter's high school graduation.
* Crenshaw had to choose between the Kemper or the Westchester Classic the following week; he chose Westchester because his wife is from that area, said Harris.
* Miller is recovering from a leg infection that has kept him off the tour since the Bryon Nelson Classic and "Congressional is not the kind of track one does on a gimpy leg," according to Brent Turley of Johnny Miller Enterprises.
* Aoki is in a tournament in Japan.
* Palmer is playing in the seniors tour event at Reno, Nev., according to Doc Giffin, his spokesman.
* Weiskopf has planned a white-water rafting vacation for that week, according to Harris. "When he plans one of his exotic trips, golf does not get in the way," said Harris. "He went deer hunting one year and missed the World Series of Golf."
Spokesmen for Watson and Floyd said that the tournament was not on their schedules; Ballesteros is not a regular on the PGA tour.
Despite the fact that most of the big box-office draws are bypassing the Kemper, Harris is satisfied with the depth of the field.
"It will be a very representative field," he said.
"There are people who are coming who have not been here in a couple of years, like Zoeller," the 1979 Masters champion and one of the more colorful players on tour.
Harris said three local players will receive sponsor exemptions. They are amateur Marty West and touring pros Gary Marlowe and Bill Calfee.
Now is when the sponsor actively starts recruiting players, according to Steve Lesnick, president of Kemper Sports Management.
"We'll have as good a field as anybody else's for this time of year . . . This is the time things begin to materialize," said Lesnick.
"Now a lot of phone calls go around. Right now is that critical period to do everything conceivable to get players on the fence to come. If you don't have everybody--all the big names lined up and you just sit back and sell tickets--you do everything you can."