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Tiger Watch

PGA Tour Policy Board approves special exemption for Tiger Woods into signature events

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Sean M. Haffey

It’s official: Tiger Woods has his own separate status on the PGA Tour.

During a joint meeting of the PGA Tour Policy Board and PGA Tour Enterprises’ board of directors on Tuesday ahead of this week’s Travelers Championship, Policy Board members approved the creation of a separate exemption for Woods into the tour’s eight signature events based on his “exceptional lifetime achievement.” The tour made players aware of decision in a memo sent by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

Woods, 48, already has lifetime membership on tour thanks to his 82-career wins. But that status does not allow him to compete in the tour’s signature events, which offer $20 million purses and have their own specific criteria for eligibility. Given the limited schedule that he plays, the only way for Woods to gain entry in them was to receive one of four sponsor's exemptions offered into each event; that's how he was in the field in February at the Genesis Invitational, the tournament he hosts and that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. Those exemptions, however, have become valuable—and controversial—commodities as several high-profile players also not eligible for the signature events have written letters hoping to gain entry into the tour’s big money tournaments.

Rather than have Woods use one of those four, he now has his own separate pathway, justified by his 15-major résumé.

The memo also stated that the Policy Board had approved that all signature events in 2025 would have a 72-player minimum field that would include an alternate list to fill missing spots. At the Travelers, the final regular-season signature event of the 2024 tour schedule, there are only 71 players competing after the withdrawal of Rory McIlroy on Monday.

Woods is one of the six players on the 11-person Policy Board. It was unclear if he recused himself from a vote on the exemption.

The other question unanswered is how often Woods might take advantage of his new exemption. Since his car accident in 2021, Woods has played in just nine official PGA Tour events, only two of which weren't majors. Woods said at the end of 2023 that he hoped to be healthy enough to play monthly in 2024, but that hasn't happened. Woods had to withdraw during the second round of the Genesis in February due to an illness. He played in the Masters in April, making the cut before finishing 60th. He then missed the cut last month at the PGA Championship and last week at the U.S. Open.

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Tiger Woods missed the cut at last week's U.S. Open. He plans to play in next month's Open Championship at Troon but noted that would likely be his last tour start of 2024.

Jared C. Tilton

"I've only got one more tournament this season," Woods said last week at Pinehurst, alluding to next month’s Open Championship at Royal Troon. "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 an update on the status of the ongoing talks between the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which is considering making a substantial financial investment in PGA Tour Enterprises. The PIF is the main source of funding for LIV Golf League and entered into a framework agreement with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour more than a year ago.

"As we've said in the past—we can't negotiate in public—but we are making progress," Monahan explained. "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."