Tiger Woods May Receive a Special Exemption to Future Signature Events, Pending a Vote This Week

According to a report, the Player Advisory Council is recommending that Woods be given a special exemption into the signature events.
Woods missed the cut last week at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst
Woods missed the cut last week at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

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The Travelers Championship this week is the eighth and final signature event in the first year of the PGA Tour’s system that sees reduced fields, big purses and a qualification system largely based on the previous year’s top 50 from the FedEx Cup standings.

Changes will inevitably be coming, including perhaps the scheduling of several events. But one thing that reportedly will be decided this week is whether to give Tiger Woods a special exemption into signature events that would be designed specifically for him.

Golf.com reported that the Player Advisory Council is recommending that Woods be given a special exemption into the signature events that would acknowledge his 82 career PGA Tour victories. While it might not seem necessary—Woods would get a sponsor invite into any signature event he wants—the smaller fields allow for some leeway.

The PAC proposal will apparently be voted on this week by the PGA Tour Policy Board, of which Woods is a part but where he’d not vote. The thinking behind the plan is that the four sponsor invites to signature events are so coveted that an extra spot should be carved out for Woods—who is not likely to use many anyway.

He got a sponsor invite to his own Genesis Invitational earlier this year and might conceivably use one at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. But given his limited schedule, it’s unlikely he’d play many of the others, if at all. The Policy Board is likely also to consider a proposal that would see the fields have a reserve list if they have less than 72 players.

Other things to be discussed will take some time. Among them is the schedule. Having the Memorial precede the U.S. Open and the Travelers following it is probably not ideal. But it was done with the idea of not isolating regular events between big events.

There is also the dilemma of having them the week prior to a major, thus all but forcing the top players to compete in a week that they would prefer to be home. That certainly seemed to be the indication from Scottie Scheffler, who won the Memorial Tournament and then was flat at Pinehurst. Jack Nicklaus, the host of the Memorial Tournament, said he was not in favor of his own event being played that week.

“For me personally, I love to play the week before majors,” Rory McIlroy said at the Memorial. “I think it really helps me. Jack (Nicklaus) didn't like to play the weeks before majors, so I can certainly understand where he's coming from. I think, regardless, you're going to get a great field, you're going to get the same field that you would get two weeks before, a week before, and I think it's just personal preference. I think this stretch of golf where it goes signature event, major championship, signature event, I think that needs to maybe change because I feel like this tournament should stand alone in a way. And a bit likes, you know, even the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, the week after Augusta, that's, I think those are tough dates for Travelers and Hilton Head.

“But I always go back, say, 10 years ago, my two favorite weeks of the year were Akron (WGC-Bridgestone) and the PGA. Akron always felt like a tune-up before the final major of the year, and I always liked those two events back-to-back. But this (the Memorial) is more than a tune-up for the U.S. Open. Like, this is a huge tournament with the host being arguably the greatest player ever to play the game, so I think it needs to stand on its own a little bit.”

Bob Harig


Bob Harig is a senior writer covering golf for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience on the beat, including 15 at ESPN. Harig is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, "DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods" and "Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry." He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Harig, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Fla.