ORLANDO, Fla. -- Wonder how this development will be received by several of the second-tier tournaments on the PGA Tour, not to mention a rather noteworthy event at Torrey Pines?
In case you missed the news of the day that didn't emanate from the Presidents Cup matches, Tiger Woods has signed a deal to play in January on the European Tour, presumably for a fat appearance fee.
But first, in order for Woods to play in the Abu Dhabi event January, he had to be granted a competing-events release by his home tour, the one in the States. Which is where it gets a bit sticky.
By PGA Tour rules, for a player to be eligible for a competing-events release, he must play in the required 15 events annually. Because of injury or personal choice, Woods hasn’t played in 15 events since 2009.
Yet the tour green-lighted him for the Abu Dhabi event, anyway, just as it did earlier this year for a competing European Tour event in Dubai, even though he did not play in the minimum number of Stateside events in 2010.
"We have the flexibility within the tournament regulations to reduce the 15-tournament requirement in the event of an injury or illness for purposes of receiving a conflicting event release," said Andy Pazder, the PGA Tour's second in command, in an email.
This is no small favor.
In order to play, Woods will skip playing in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey, a locale where he's had more success than at any other venue, with seven career victories, including the 2008 U.S. Open.
For the second year in a row, Woods didn’t come close to competing in 15 events, only entering nine this season. In fact, after missing three months in the middle of the season, he didn’t muster much of a good-faith effort in the second half of the year to get remotely close.
Recall that when he was on the cusp of missing the FedEx Cup series, he skipped a chance to play in the Greensboro event, which might have earned him enough points to get him in the playoffs, as it has for other players needing a last-minute boost. Then when the FedEx series ended, Woods skipped entering Fall Series events at Sea Island, Las Vegas and Disney World, when he was clearly healthy enough to play.
He also could have played in the PGA Tour's semi-official CIMB and HSBC Champions event in China, which followed the Fall Series, but he signed up for a series of exhibitions in Asia and Australia, instead. All of those events pony up huge sums to be associated with the PGA Tour and would have loved to have Woods in the field.
What kind of message is the tour sending to its own tournaments by letting a guy slide on ground rules two years in a row, so that he can collect a paycheck overseas at an event that draws eyeballs away from its own product?
The Golf Channel reports that Peter Ripa, the new tournament director at the Farmers Insurance event at Torrey Pines, learned that Woods was playing in Abu Dhabi when he read about it Wednesday morning.
Nice way to start the workday, much less a new job, huh? A guy who was once his main drawing card will be playing on the opposite end of the world, with the PGA Tour's blessing.