A simmering speaking level today on the PGA Tour revolves round who will get to play within the $20 million Signature Occasions (and likewise, who doesn’t). Many gamers earned their means in throughout the 2023 season, and a handful have performed their means into that slate of mega-money tournaments this yr. However 4 spots in every Signature Occasion are given out by way of the sponsor of the event.
Contemplating the sphere sizes for these occasions — principally 70 to 80 gamers — and the large purses, incomes a sponsor’s exemption feels a bit like a lottery ticket. It’s a tee time for 2 assured rounds (and in some circumstances 4 assured rounds). If it’s your week, you’re going to make some huge cash off that lottery ticket, and earn loads of FedEx Cup factors. Thus, it goes with out saying that everybody on the skin wanting in would love to obtain a lottery ticket. And everybody who doesn’t is sure to use some scrutiny to the choice.
Two weeks in the past, on the Pebble Seashore Professional-Am, the sponsor’s exemptions had been dished out to Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Peter Malnati and Maverick McNealy. It was a barely criticized transfer, contemplating Scott, Simpson and Malnati are all sitting members on the PGA Tour’s 6-player Coverage Board, a high-ranking place among the many membership. But in addition as a result of none of their names had been Gary Woodland.
Woodland has returned to the PGA Tour this season following profitable mind surgical procedure in 2023, which he mentioned in nice element final month throughout his season debut.
A lesion on his mind had riddled him with worry and nervousness, wrecking his urge for food and vitality ranges. He relied on remedy for awhile, nonetheless attempting to compete on the PGA Tour, however then resorted to surgical procedure in September. The Sony Open in January was his return, the place he informed reporters what’s driving him again after his well being scare.
“I need to show to my youngsters no person goes to let you know you’ll be able to’t do something,” Woodland mentioned. “You may overcome robust, scary choices in your life. Not every part is simple. This got here out of nowhere for me, however I’m not going to let it cease me. I don’t need this to be a bump within the highway for me. I would like it to be a bounce begin in my profession.”
Woodland opened his season with 4 straight 71s, which nets out to an ideal even par, however amounte to 2 missed cuts on the Sony and Farmers Insurance coverage Open. Throughout these weeks, he had Tour professionals and broadcasters (See: Colt Knost) questioning if he would possibly earn a sponsor’s exemption into the Pebble Professional-Am, given his inspiring pursuit, but in addition as a result of the largest second of Woodland’s profession got here at Pebble Seashore itself: his 2019 U.S. Open victory.
Finally, Professional-Am organizers went in a unique route — which its organizers are entitled to do — however no matter alternative was missed that week has now been granted to Woodland by way of Tiger Woods. Woodland acquired a Friday night exemption into subsequent week’s Signature Occasion, the Genesis Invitational, which Woods hosts. Woods himself even required a sponsor’s exemption into the sphere, as Signature Occasion fields are stuffed principally by way of earlier season FedEx Cup rankings and up to date efficiency on Tour.
Woods and Woodland might be joined by Adam Scott and Will Zalatoris as sponsor’s exemptions within the discipline, and whereas Woodland can thank Woods, he additionally ought to thank Justin Thomas. Thomas was initially slotted for that remaining exemption till his current type has helped lock him into the highest 30 within the OWGR. Any gamers who rank within the prime 30 on this planet are routinely certified for Signature Occasions as effectively. As soon as it was made clear that Thomas would make the lower in Phoenix and preserve his prime 30 standing, his sponsor’s invite was redirected to Woodland. You will notice him in LA. And excellent news for Woodland is a pair 71s on the testy Riviera Nation Membership is is more likely to result in that first made lower of 2024.