Tiger gives tour­ney a boost in pres­tige

Windsor Star - - SPORTS - JON Mc­CARTHY jm­c­[email protected]­media.com

With a past linked to Ben Ho­gan and a fu­ture closely tied to Tiger Woods, things look bright at Riviera Coun­try Club. Other than the weather. On a cool and rainy Wed­nes­day in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, PGA Tour com­mis­sioner Jay Mon­a­han an­nounced that be­gin­ning next year, the Ge­n­e­sis Open hosted by Woods will be­come an in­vi­ta­tional, putting it on the same level as tour­na­ments tied to Jack Nick­laus and the late Arnold Palmer. “I’ve been lucky enough to have won those two events,” Woods said Wed­nes­day of the Me­mo­rial and the Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional. “For me, it’s been so spe­cial to be able to walk off those greens and see those two gen­tle­men there, and to be able to have this event in that same breath as the two guys that I looked up to my en­tire play­ing ca­reer. It’s just very spe­cial.” With the el­e­vated sta­tus, the tour­na­ment’s 2020 field will shrink from 144 to 120, the to­tal purse will in­crease to US$9.3 mil­lion from $7.4 mil­lion, and the win­ner will re­ceive a three-year PGA Tour ex­emp­tion rather than the two-year ex­emp­tion awarded most weeks. “Just like Jack and Arnie, who did so much for the game in their eras, Tiger has done so much for the game in his,” said Cana­dian Adam Had­win Wed­nes­day of the an­nounce­ment. “He brought so many peo­ple into the sport that wouldn’t oth­er­wise be in­ter­ested in the game, and he brought a lot of eyes to what we do. Good for him, he’s done a lot of great work out­side of the golf course too with his foun­da­tion, so it’s ex­cit­ing.”

Un­like Ho­gan, whose name be­came syn­ony­mous with Riviera after amaz­ingly win­ning three times here over a twoyear span (1947, ’48 Los An­ge­les Opens and ’48 U.S. Open), Woods is yet to pick up the win­ner’s trophy at this sto­ried course. The 14-time ma­jor cham­pion was born in nearby Cy­press, Calif., and made his PGA Tour de­but at this tour­na­ment in 1992 as a 16-year-old am­a­teur when it was known as the Nis­san Los An­ge­les Open. Twenty-seven years later he hopes to fi­nally con­quer it. “There’s no se­cret to this golf course,” Woods said. “It’s right in front of you, but it’s hard.”

Tiger Woods

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