While Norman's schedule for 2003 has not yet been finalized, he will not be required to play in a minimum number of tournaments in 2003, since he will not be utilizing the PGA TOUR's 'home circuit exception' to play events in his native Australia. Rather, Norman will play his international schedule, including play in Australia, through the use of normal conflicting event releases.
Norman was planning on playing in the necessary 12 events in 2001, but withdrew from the Genuity Championship at Doral because of an illness and the British Open because of the death of a close friend. He thus played in only 11 events.
'I've always tried to play into the number of events I felt was necessary for maintaining my competitivesness,' Norman told the Palm Beach Post. 'This really fits into my business plan. That's the best way of explaining it.'
His exempt status this year will come as a result of his record-breaking victory at the 1994 Players Championship that carried with it a 10-year exemption. When that exemption expires, his play will fall under a 10-year exemption that came with his 1997 NEC World Series of Golf title. After the 2007 season, he will play under the Life Member exemption he earned as a winner of 20 PGA Tour titles.
Under this year's rules, Norman was allowed to receive five sponsor exemptions and then fill out his schedule by playing in whatever majors and World Golf Championships events he was eligible for. He was eventually granted another exemption after he qualified for the U.S. Open. He played 13 events this year, earning $467,988 on the strength of four top-25 finishes.
'Greg remains one of the most popular and exciting players in professional golf,' said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. 'I'm pleased that Greg will again be a PGA Tour member in 2003 while having the flexibility to continue as a worldwide ambassador of the game.'
Norman was one of only 13 players to make the cut in all four major championships this past year.
Since turning professional in 1976, Norman has amassed 86 international victories, including two British Open championships (1986 at Turnberry and 1993 at Royal St. George's). He has competed in 327 PGA Tour events and has made the cut 278 times with nearly half (135) of his cuts made resulting in Top-10 finishes.
Norman was planning on playing in the necessary 12 events in 2001, but withdrew from the Genuity Championship at Doral because of an illness and the British Open because of the death of a close friend. The Tour could have given him a special exemption to keep his membership, but PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem chose not to.
Norman's biography was moved to the back of the Tour's media guide in the 'prominent international players' section and his name no longer appeared on the season money or career money lists.
Norman will make an appearance on The Golf Channel at 8 tonight to discuss his future and other topics.