As much as I understand the premise behind the new PGA Tour family crisis rule, and as much as we all wish this was never a topic for debate, something still bothered me about the announcement. It took all week, but I now know what it is.
First, here's Doug Ferguson's story on the announcement.
The result is "family crisis" being part of the medical extension regulations, and both Duval and Hart will be eligible.
"He's treated as if he had a back injury," said Andy Pazder, the tour's vice president of competition.
Duval returned to competition last week at the Viking Classic, where he tied for 44th, and he plans to play one more event in the Fall Series. His schedule next year will be based on the average number of starts among the top 125 on the money list this year.
"It's the right thing," Duval said last week. "I actually got thanked for bringing this up. I said to them a couple of months ago, whether they make it retroactive or not, it needs to be done."
As for other situations that might arise? Pazder said like any medical extension request, the decision lies with Finchem.
"It's got to be a serious family crisis," he said. "It's a hardship caused by the illness of immediate family."
As reader Chris noted, a litany of excuses will come up and it could be a nightmare for the Tour to sort through. Let's hope that's not the case. Because the Tour deserves credit for showing compassion and heading off a potentially awkward situation should, God forbid, there be another tragedy like Heather Clarke.
But something about this spoke to a larger question of reducing playing opportunities on the PGA Tour, as well as the top 125 rule gone slightly awry? Namely, why is David Duval getting yet another chance?
Just for some background, let's recall his comments about Ben Crenshaw in Golf Digest last year.
Duval: There were a few guys who felt they should be paid for playing a Ryder Cup, which is fine; that's their position. I didn't want to get paid, but I got beat up. I got a kick out of some of the other players who weren't on the team giving me crap for talking about Ryder Cup money when they actually got paid for doing stuff at the Ryder Cup, like clinics for companies during the matches. The only guys who don't get paid at the Ryder Cup are the players in the Ryder Cup. The captain makes money. That's a problem I had with Crenshaw in 1999.
Duval: Well, he talked about the purity of the Ryder Cup, and what he did with all that purity is make a bunch of money off the thing. He wrote a book about it; he had his clothing company involved. He kept saying how it burned his ass, us talking about charity dollars and hurting the sanctity of the event. But after he took his big stand and sold everybody else down the river, he did what we did with the charity money. I asked him point blank, "If you were so against this, why would you want anything to do with that charity money?" He took his $100,000 and sent it to the charity of his choice. Where's the purity in that?
Fine, fair point.
However, as someone who portrays himself as ferociously independent, strong-willed and "pure" --the PGA Tour's Howard Roark--he is now accepting his second less-than-pure exemption to play for essentially another year on the PGA Tour? One was entirely within the rules, one is a new rule created retroactively with Duval and Dudley Hart in mind.
It seems that if your actions in golf are all about purity, wouldn't you accept that your wife had a rough pregnancy and that's the tiny price to pay for having a large, wonderful family life? Furthermore, thanks to the PGA Tour, he still has the chance to play Fall Finish events in hopes of keeping his card. And if not, he can head to Q-school like all of the other independent contractors?