Tiger Woods has played just nine competitive rounds on the PGA Tour over the last year, a number that will grow this week as he tees it up at the 2023 Genesis Invitational in what will be his first start since The Open at St. Andrews. While Woods’ presence has been missed on the golf course, it has been felt in full force behind closed doors as the PGA Tour focuses its efforts on a revamped playing schedule for the 2022-23 season.
Spearheading the move to gather the world’s best players at the same tournaments on a more regular basis, Woods became somewhat of a pseudo-commissioner during his time away from the golf course. With the creation of the 13 designated events still fresh and details still needing to be confirmed for the future, Woods understands the importance of continuing to push the PGA Tour product forward.
“We need to keep going with it [the designated events] and need to stay aligned and keep progressing and making it better. We need to produce the best product we possibly can to sell to all the viewerships,” said Woods. “There’s so many different distractions out there now, there’s so many different options that you have now, so it’s about us creating the best product so we have more eyes on it, more stars, people want to come out and either watch the game of golf, participate, either on social media or the different streaming platforms. Just the fact that they’re able to watch our sport, so in order to do that we have to create the best product, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
There have been only two designated events on the PGA Tour so far this year with the third taking place this week at Riviera Country Club. The response from the first two tournaments has been nothing short of positive as players such as Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler have all been in contention late into Sunday.
The stars have been taken care of, but what about up-and-coming young players like rookies Taylor Montgomery and Davis Thompson? Both had to rely on sponsor’s invitations to gain entry into the 2023 WM Phoenix Open, and Woods understands a more efficient pipeline into designated events is needed to create the big names of tomorrow.
“We have a lot of top players that are aligned since the Delaware meeting, and we’re trying to create that atmosphere of across the board and understand that players need to be able to have access and ability to play at these elevated events. and how do we do that,” said Woods. “We want to create the next stars. I was lucky enough to get a sponsor’s exemption here at 16 years old. So is that possible in that new model? We need to create opportunities like that. I look back, I got lucky and I was able to play in this event, Byron Nelson asked me to play in his event, Arnold [Palmer] asked me to play in his event, so I got those opportunities very early in my career. We don’t want the next stars to not have those opportunities.”
The concept of designated events is still only six months old. Change is inevitable as additional player input is taken into consideration and the PGA Tour begins to understand what does and doesn’t work. The path forward will evolve, and not even Woods knows with 100% certainty what it may look like.
“We are in the process of figuring all that out and it’s been a variety of different models, different opinions, trying to figure out what is the best product and competitive environment and what we should do going forward,” said Woods. “Yes, limited fields, what’s the number? Cuts? Yes or no. What’s the number, what do we go to? How many players are playing the event? OK, what is the ability to get into the designated events? How is Jay [Monahan] able to sell our product to all the different sponsors across the board? There’s so much give and take. It’s still ongoing.”