Commentary

Woods move could impact PGA Tour

Originally Published: October 10, 2012
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

Claiming money titles on both the PGA and European tours was widely celebrated last year when Luke Donald accomplished the feat, understandable given that it had never been achieved.

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Warren Little/Getty ImagesIf Tiger Woods takes up membership on the European Tour next year, there's a chance his PGA Tour schedule could get cut back a bit in 2013.

The same will be true for Rory McIlroy, who this year will win the PGA Tour money title and is in position to do so in Europe.

Sometimes overlooked in such discussion is the fact Tiger Woods would have done so seven times in his career -- but was never a member of the European Tour, thus officially ineligible for the title.

All of which makes Wednesday's news out of Turkey interesting, if perhaps not earth shaking. Woods said he will consider taking up European Tour membership if some proposed alterations to the requirements are adopted.

Speaking at the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final, where he is part of the eight-player exhibition field, Woods, 36, said changes that could count the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup toward tournament requirements -- as is the case on the PGA Tour -- might get him to consider playing both tours.

This would be terrific for the global game and the European Tour in particular, maybe not so great for the PGA Tour.

The PGA Tour requires a minimum of 15 starts for membership, the European Tour 13 -- up from 11 when he last considered joining in 2000.

"I knew I would have to play one or two more events back then when it was 11 but now that criteria is 13," said Woods, who is ranked second in the world and won three times this year on the PGA Tour. "I don't know what my numbers are as I know I played 19 in the States this year and whether it crosses over or not, but I will again look at it.

"I did play Abu Dhabi but then 13 are certainly a lot more than 11, especially playing full time in the States."

The European Tour is said to be considering new membership criteria that would count playing in the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup or Seve Trophy toward membership. That would make Woods' task all the easier, as the major championships and World Golf Championships already count on both tours.

In 2012, Woods played all four majors, three WGCs, the Ryder Cup and the Abu Dhabi Championship. That's nine events, leaving him four short of the current European requirement.

But Woods is skipping this year's WGC-HSBC Champions in China, an event he could add next year. Because he is formalizing an endorsement deal with Turkish Airlines, it would make sense that Woods add a new Turkish European Tour event to his schedule -- which will be played in November 2013, just a week prior to the season-ending Dubai World Championship.

So four majors, four WGCs, Abu Dhabi (or something similar early in the year), Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup, Turkey and the season-ending Dubai event would bring the total to 12. He could, possibly, add the European Tour event in China prior to the WGC; or he could play another event around the time of Abu Dhabi during the tour's Gulf Coast Swing.

Seems simple enough, even if there are some repercussions for the PGA Tour. It would be all but inevitable that Woods cut back on the 19 PGA Tour events he played on the PGA Tour this year in order to meet the European obligation. Woods has always played a limited schedule, and something has to give.

If he adds European Tour events in January/February, something is likely to get cut out on the PGA Tour early in the season like happened this year. In January, Woods played at Pebble Beach and skipped his usual PGA Tour start to the season at Torrey Pines, instead playing in Abu Dhabi. If he played a heavy European schedule in October/November, look for him to find other places to take time off. Perhaps regular events such as Quail Hollow or this year's Greenbrier Classic appearance would be at risk.

Perhaps he adds the Scottish Open the week prior to the Open Championship? There are numerous possibilities to consider.

Woods would need to seek competing events releases from the PGA Tour in order to play international events opposite PGA Tour events, and often times "favors" are extracted for such waivers. Those can include, but are not limited to, putting on clinics at a PGA Tour event, meet and greets with sponsors or even adding other PGA Tour events to a player's schedule.

Still, as long as Woods is meeting his PGA Tour obligations, it is hard to imagine commissioner Tim Finchem playing hardball with his biggest draw and a player who has done so much for the game.

Now it's up to the European Tour. Does it allow players to count the various team events toward tour qualification? If so, Woods -- who would have been No. 1 on both tours from 1999 to 2002 as well as 2005 to 2007 -- could take up the challenge of winning both money titles officially.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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