PGA Tour threatens to remove Tiger Woods’s tournament from schedule
Sponsor fails to extend association with event and Congressional ruled out as venue
Tiger Woods attends the US Open tenis tournament at Flushing Meadows recently with his son Charlie. Photograph: Elsa/Getty Images.
The PGA Tour has threatened to remove the tournament hosted by Tiger Woods from its schedule after the loss of a title sponsor. Quicken Loans has failed to extend its four-year association with the June event, of which Woods’s charity is a beneficiary, with the PGA Tour duly cutting ties with Congressional in Washington DC where it was to be held in 2018.
The Tour released a 49-tournament schedule for the 2017-18 season on Tuesday. Included in it is “The National” from June 25th, with a venue yet to be decided. Speaking at East Lake, where the FedEx Cup will conclude on Sunday, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, Jay Monahan, admitted necessary glances towards a plan B.
“We are in discussions with Quicken about extending our partnership. As we sit here today we have not concluded those discussions,” Monahan said. “We are in a position where we have got to put forward the schedule and that’s why we’ve put The National on the brand.
“We need to conclude those discussions with Quicken but you also need to maintain your flexibility because whether or not Quicken steps up, we need to have all of our options in the event that a sponsor is looking in a different direction or we are going to take the tournament in a different direction.”
Monahan denied the situation highlighted Woods’s reduced status. “This is a scenario we have faced often,” he said. “Often you don’t see the back and forth, the length of time and the complexity of discussions and decisions.”
Woods’s manager, Mark Steinberg, said: “This is one of our highest priorities. The event, at this point, is not going away. I want to be clear about that. We are looking for a title sponsor in the DC area. Where that event would be played is still up in the air. We have to work on the economics and finances. We’re actively looking and we have a number of good leads and sponsors and are talking to them daily.”
Woods has not played competitively since late January, owing to injury problems. He is due to return to the public eye next week, as a vice-captain of the United States Presidents Cup team.
The 14-times major winner was charged with driving under the influence in May, with a toxicology report revealing two drugs in Woods’s system which appear on the PGA Tour’s banned list.
Andy Levinson, the Tour’s head of anti-doping, said his department need not carry out tests before sanctions are taken against a member player. The Tour never comments publicly on individual cases of doping bans, unless a performance-enhancing drug is involved.
“The language in the PGA Tour anti-doping programme for prohibited conduct states that use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or prohibited method is a violation under the policy,” Levinson said. “So if there is evidence that suggests use or attempted use, that could be considered prohibited conduct in the same manner that an actual positive test would.
“A hypothetical would be if a player in the Olympics tested positive under the IOC’s programme and that information was made public [and] we saw that information. We would have the ability under our programme to act accordingly and treat that as a violation.”
Pressed on another hypothetical, involving police or medical tests, Levinson added: “Again, if there was evidence regarding use or attempted use of a prohibited substance then, under our programme, that could be considered prohibited conduct.”