PGA Tour’s ‘lifetime ban, rule is flawed as Tiger Woods injury pain has already ruined 2024 plan

By | July 1, 2024

PGA Tour’s ‘lifetime ban, rule is flawed as Tiger Woods injury pain has already ruined 2024 plan

Tiger Woods has earned the right to play in as many tournaments as he wants.

But with his body is failing him, the PGA Tour’s ‘special exemption’ rule feels like yet another desperate move.

 

Woods major-winning days appear to be behind himCredit: AFP

“I think it was important to our membership, it’s something we talked about with the PAC, it was important to our player directors, it was important to our board, it’s important to me,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said.

“The man, as the exemption says, has won more than 80 events. Any event he’s ever played in he’s made it bigger, he’s made it better, he’s drawn more eyeballs to it, and I think just as an organisation we wanted to celebrate his exceptionalism in that manner.”

Monahan left no-one in any doubt that Monday’s rule announcement was purely engineered for the benefit of Woods and for the benefit of the sport’s wider appeal.

Now in his twilight years on the course, Woods has won all four majors in his career at least three times giving him a total of 15 crowns on the biggest stage.

He stands second only to Jack Nicklaus on that list, and it’s a feat that has earned him lifetime exemption to the Masters, the Open, the US Open and the PGA Championship.

That is four times a year for that ‘exceptionalism’ to be rightly celebrated.

In truth that’s probably about all his body can handle.

Creating a rule that allows Woods to compete in all eight signature events as part of a new ‘Lifetime Achievement exemption’ as well the sport’s four major events, seems to be forgetting one thing – he can’t do it.

Woods has spent more time on the course with his son CharlieCredit: Getty

Earlier this year Woods outlined a plan to play one tournament a month in 2024. Halfway through the season, Woods has played in four tournaments, is yet to break 70 and made one cut – at the Masters.

He also withdrew from his first event of the year through illness.

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Fresh from competing at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in November, Woods made his intentions clear – despite his struggles – to participate at the top level following surgery on injuries sustained in a car crash in February 2021.

“The best scenario would be maybe a tournament a month. I think that’s realistic. We have it set up right now the biggest events are one per month. It sets itself up for that,” Woods said.

“Now, I need to get myself ready for all that.”

It’s hard to watch Woods struggling around some of the best and toughest courses in the world, but that is the reality.

Woods plans to play in only one more tournament this year, the Open at Royal Troon in July – that will make it five for the year, not the 12 he ambitiously targeted.

The American will then have the best part of four months to get ready for the Hero Challenge again. By his own admission he says he needs competitive reps to play more, but where is he likely to get them?

Maybe entry into the signature events will help to deliver those reps, but at what cost to Woods’ failing body?

There is also the prospect of Woods being announced as the American Ryder Cup captain for 2024 at Bethpage.

It’s an appointment that will only clog up a schedule that already features Woods role in the Tour’s protracted and ongoing negotiations with the PIF.

 

Woods has earned the right to tee it up wherever he likes, but with more prize money on offer than ever before, the PGA Tour appear to be increasingly closing off some of it’s signature events –  a criticism that was levelled at the LIV Golf circuit.

Handing Woods a spot at the expense of a genuine contender underlines the view that the PGA focus is at the top end of the game – despite the best intentions to recognise one of the game’s all-time greats.

 

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