PGA Tour creates special exemption for Tiger alone

Golf

The PGA Tour has created a special sponsor exemption for 15-time major champion Tiger Woods — and Woods alone — based on his “exceptional lifetime achievement,” the tour told its members in a memo Tuesday night.

The sponsor exemption would be available for Woods to compete in the eight signature events, which feature limited fields, increased prize money and FedEx Cup points.

Woods, an 82-time winner on the PGA Tour, wouldn’t otherwise qualify for the signature events with $20 million purses because he isn’t playing enough competitive golf after returning to the tour from serious injuries suffered in a car wreck in February 2021.

The PGA Tour policy board approved the special sponsor exemption during a joint meeting with the PGA Tour Enterprises board of directors on Tuesday in Hartford, Connecticut.

In the memo, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, the tour told its members, “An additional sponsor exemption will be created to recognize Tiger Woods in his own category as a player who has reached an exceptional lifetime achievement threshold of 80+ career wins.”

This season, the eight signature events were The Sentry, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, RBC Heritage, Wells Fargo Championship, Memorial Tournament and the Travelers Championship.

In the memo, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said the policy board was considering implementing a 36-hole cut in each of the signature events — only the Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial currently do. The board took no action and will continue discussing the topic.

The tour said it would also develop an alternate list that would ensure that each of the signature events had a field of 72 players. The Travelers Championship has only 71 players after Rory McIroy withdrew Monday.

Woods, 48, has competed in only nine official PGA Tour events the past three seasons since returning to action at the 2022 Masters. The only non-major event he has competed in is the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club outside Los Angeles, which he hosts and benefits his foundation.

Woods withdrew from the second round of the Genesis Invitational in February because of illness. He finished 60th at the Masters and missed the cut at the PGA Championship and last week’s U.S. Open.

Woods said he planned to compete in next month’s Open Championship, scheduled for July 18-21 at Royal Troon Golf Course in Scotland.

When Woods was asked at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 on Friday if playing in more events might help him perform better in the majors, he didn’t seem ready to play additional tournaments.

“I’ve only got one more tournament this season,” Woods said. “Even if I win the British Open, I don’t think I’ll be in the [FedEx Cup] playoffs. Just one more event and then I’ll come back whenever I come back.”

In the memo, Monahan also gave members an update on the tour’s negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is considering a sizable investment in PGA Tour Enterprises. The PIF has funded the rival LIV Golf League the past three years.

Woods and other members of a transaction subcommittee met with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and others in New York on June 7.

“As we’ve said in the past — we can’t negotiate in public — but we are making progress,” Monahan told the policy board, according to the memo. “Two weeks ago, members of our PGA Tour Enterprises transaction subcommittee met in New York with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the Governor of the PIF, as well as members of his team. During that meeting, we reached consensus on several items, but both parties recognize that there is still work to do to reach a final agreement.

“Our talks are ongoing, with the goal of developing a shared vision for the future of professional golf that is pro-competitive and provides players with the best global opportunities.”

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