NASSAU, Bahamas – It will be dubbed by some the “Tiger Woods requirement,” but the small print truth is the new PGA Tour policy requiring players to add events to their schedules won’t impact the former world No. 1.
According to an e-mail sent to players on Tuesday, the circuit’s new “strength of field regulation” will mandate a Tour member add at least one tournament they had not participated in during the previous four seasons.
Some see this as a reaction to Woods’ start at the Wyndham Championship in August, where large crowds flocked to Sedgefield Country Club to see him make one final push to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
But according to the new policy, which will begin with the 2016-17 season, Tour members who play 25 or more official money events in the previous or current season will be exempt from the regulation, as will life members (a player with 15 years on Tour and 20 victories) and veteran members who are 45 or older. Both Woods and Mickelson are life members.
The policy, according to Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, is geared toward the next generation of players.
“We do need a bit of movement by the players,” Finchem said on Wednesday at the Hero World Challenge. “It’s a variation of what we’ve been talking about. It exempts out players who are kind of veteran players who are doing it on the verge of starting to back off [their schedules]. This is more about the younger players and we think it changes the culture a little bit.”
According to Andy Pazder, the Tour’s chief of operations, the four player directors pushed to exempt life and veteran members in large part because of their historic support of the Tour throughout their careers, and that tournaments directors, who are meeting this week in Miami, were supportive of the new measure.
“My sense is an equal number of players will drop an event to meet the requirement to those who will simply add another event to their schedule,” Pazder said.
Although he won’t be held to the new requirement, Woods’ start at the Wyndham Championship, where he tied for 10th place making his first start in Greensboro, N.C., certainly helped pave the way for the new proposal, and Finchem acknowledged that Woods’ impact on the field was mentioned during meetings regarding the new requirement.
“He changed that tournament forever, just by him being there that one time,” Jason Gore said. “Now people are sitting there thinking, ‘I’m going to go watch Tiger.’ And they had such a good time last year, let’s go out there again next year whether he is there or not. It’s good for the event.”