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Does Tiger Woods deserve his own exemption category on the PGA Tour?

NCG’s Matt Chivers believes although the PGA Tour’s most recent announcement will likely trigger the anti-Tiger crowd, there is no one more deserving of a Lifetime Exemption than the man that the PGA Tour rely on the most…

 

The visuals of the new Tiger Woods exemption on the PGA Tour might bring a wry smile and a chuckle from some quarters.

Following a PGA Tour Policy Board meeting in Connecticut, it was decided a Lifetime Achievement Sponsor Exemption for Signature Events would be introduced in 2025 for players with 80 wins or more, recognising Woods in his own category. He has 82 wins on the circuit and is the only current player that is anywhere near this career mark.

The ’80 wins or more’ description is a somewhat shoe-horned justification for allowing Woods a spot in events with the biggest purses on the PGA Tour and that usually hold the most prestige, such as the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial Tournament.

But it doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t matter to you either.

There will be a grand army of detractors dissenting against this new rule no doubt, those who believe the 15-time major champion is finished and his spark is finally out, following missed cuts at the PGA Championship and the US Open, while the man himself pondered if his career was beyond its twilight at the latter.

But that doesn’t matter either. This announcement emphasises how important Tiger Woods is to the PGA Tour, a variable that cannot be measured. Even in his old age of 48 (in the sporting sense) and with his powers of golfing magic diminishing, the tour clearly thinks his mere presence at tournaments is vital.

The events Woods will be allowed to compete in have featured $20 million purses in 2024. There won’t be many eyebrows raised if a subsequent announcement says these purses will rise in 2025, as the financial war with the LIV Golf League has no sign of truce, no matter how many memos of not-updated updates commissioner Jay Monahan sends to the players.

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Tiger Woods Lifetime Exemption shows his mere presence is golden

Woods has added the zeros to these figures. Golf has attracted sponsorship, fan pilgrimage and worldwide attention for 25 years because of him. It is no exaggeration to say he transcends the sport. He is in the thick of negotiations in the corridors of power with the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and he is on the brink of being named the US Ryder Cup captain for next year.

Despite Team USA dominantly winning the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in 2021, the same woes and weaknesses of previous editions of the event were exposed in Rome last year when Europe reclaimed the trophy. America will likely turn to Woods for help and inspiration as their next captain.

In a period where PGA Tour events are losing title sponsors brick by brick (long-standing ones like Honda and Wells Fargo), Woods will act as the foundation to hold the house together. To say the PGA Tour’s new Tiger Woods exemption is desperate is probably harsh, but it might be fanciful given the man they’ve chosen to follow currently struggles to put one foot in front of the other.

Woods makes no secret of the arduous physical work he does to prepare for each tournament he plays in, which is just the majors so far this year plus the Genesis Invitational from which he withdrew in February. The effects of his car accident in 2021 have done lasting damage and despite the odd flash of his brilliance and inherent talent, the way he appears to trudge around the golf course and winces more than he smiles doesn’t make for pleasant viewing.

The optimist would say if Woods could add a string of starts in the Signature Events plus all four majors this might lead to a resurgence. Maybe a busier schedule could instil routine in his body which is currently focused more on defence than attack.

The question of whether Woods deserves a category of his own in the PGA Tour’s landmark events shouldn’t be a question. The player whom the sponsor didn’t select that week would probably have not been playing golf if Woods didn’t exist.

He is a part-time golfer but a full-time lifeguard for the PGA Tour.

NOW READ: When will Tiger Woods play next?

NOW READ: These Tiger Woods statistics will blow your mind?

What do you make of this Tiger Woods lifetime exemption news? Tell us on X!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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