PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman said today he has made a preliminary decision to fine golfer Mac O'Grady -- who was quoted as calling Beman "a thief with a capital T" -- up to $10,000 and suspend him at least three weeks for his criticism of Beman and the PGA Tour.

Beman made the announcement during the first round of the Bay Hill Classic, before O'Grady teed off (and shot 73, seven strokes off the lead). Asked if he planned to meet with Beman, O'Grady said, "If I see him, it will be in court."

In a letter hand-delivered to the golfer, Beman said O'Grady's continued attacks "threaten the image and good will of tournament golf and the PGA Tour built up over many years."

O'Grady, who refuses to attend tour-sponsored press sessions but speaks to the media intermittently, has been quoted criticizing other touring pros, such as Jim Colbert, as being "Deane's water boys."

Beman said O'Grady will be fined between $5,000 and $10,000 and suspended three to six events, as well as placed on probation for one year. If O'Grady commits "further offenses," he will be subject to progressively greater penalties, the commissioner said.

O'Grady last week was issued a notice of proposed disciplinary action for an intermediate-level penalty to be administered by Tour Director Jack Tuthill. But apparently angered by O'Grady's announcement of the proposed action to the media, Beman decided O'Grady would be given a major penalty.

O'Grady has 30 days to respond to today's notice.

"As you know, your statements initially were made up largely of personal attacks against me and were therefore referred to Jack for review," Beman's letter said. "Jack has proposed that you be given two intermediate penalties, which could result in fines up to $1,000 and suspension of up to three weeks in each case.

"I note with dismay, however, that your recent reported statements go well beyond isolated attacks on me . . . ," the letter stated. "According to the latest published accounts, you have directly attacked the integrity of the PGA Tour's rules officials, you have harmed the image and reputation of a tournament sponsor, and you have attacked the reputation and integrity of some of your fellow players.

"Based on all these facts and circumstances, I have now concluded that your continued attacks on the Tour and the commissioner's office constitute a major penalty under the Tournament Regulations."