The Genesis Open, hosted now by Tiger Woods and run by his TGR Live management company, will receive special status from the PGA Tour beginning with the 2020 edition of the Los Angeles-area event.
According to ESPN, the PGA Tour will place the Genesis Open on the same tier as invitational tournaments honoring two of American pro golf’s greatest legends in Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Like the Memorial Tournament and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Genesis Open will see the purse increase above $9 million, and the winner at Riviera Country Club will receive a three-season PGA Tour exemption with a win.
Effectively converting the Genesis Open to an invitational event, the PGA Tour will reduce the tournament field from 144 players to 120 players. Offering a smaller starting field at the Genesis Open will also be pragmatic, solving the oft-faced issue of spillover of the first two rounds into the next morning because of pace of play and February sunset.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational, which Woods has won eight times, and the Memorial Tournament, which Woods has won five times, saw the purse and exemption increases starting with the 2016-17 season.
By placing the Genesis Open on this level, the PGA Tour is paying homage to Woods’ 80-win (so far) career. The Genesis Open — which could be renamed as a result of this upgraded status — will be in a special category above regular PGA Tour events and invitationals, placing it just below the three FedEx Cup playoff events, the World Golf Championships and majors.
It could be said this is a status deferred to a Woods-hosted event. When the AT&T National was launched in 2007, it was expected the D.C.-area event would someday grow into this level of tournament. Unfortunately, with a difficult Independence Day date and perceived lack of support from Woods himself in years he couldn’t play, the National ended in 2018. Now hosting an event on an historic course in a bigger market, Woods will have an event with a status fitting of his accomplishments.