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The Tours credential conundrum

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ORLANDO, Fla. – We spied affable Quail Hollow Championship tournament director Kym Hougham and Tiger Woods’ manager Mark Steinberg talking on the practice putting green on Tuesday at Bay Hill.

Now, chances are the two were talking University of Illinois basketball (both are alumni). But we’d also bet a tee time at Pebble Beach that Woods’ possible return to Quail Hollow next month was also on the agenda.

After the Masters, where Woods is scheduled to end his self-imposed competitive hiatus, the next event that the world No. 1 traditionally plays is Quail Hollow, where he won in 2007.

As for the logistics of Woods’ first post-Masters appearance, Quail Hollow already is one of the best-attended events on Tour and officials are considering a larger tent that would roughly double the size of the current press center to about 400 seats.

Who gets one of those coveted seats is a much more complicated question. Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president of communications and international affairs, said credential requests for Woods’ first Tour-run start of 2010 will be handled on a priority basis.

Permanent credential holders will be selected first followed by organizations that “traditionally” cover that event and “legacy media outlets,” which would likely exclude the likes of TMZ and the National Enquirer although Votaw declined to address how the circuit would handle requests from specific outlets.

“We are talking with tournaments about the limitations of each event’s media facility,” Votaw said. “Knowing what happened in Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) for (Woods’ Feb. 19) statement we’re not going to be able to accommodate every credential request.”