ESPN.com’s Bob Harig reports that the Genesis Open hosted by Tiger Woods will move from 144 players to 120 in 2020 and see boosts in both purse and exemption-legngth from winning.
Sources told ESPN that the Genesis Open will receive "elevated status,'' which means it will have a significantly higher purse, offer a three-year PGA Tour exemption to the winner (up from two years) and will have an invitational field that will be reduced to 120 players. This week's tournament at Riviera will have 144 players.
According to sources, an announcement on the new status for the tournament is expected to be made Wednesday, when Woods addresses the media after playing in the tournament pro-am.
I have mixed feelings as anything that elevates such a historic stop is exciting while rewarding the role of Woods and Genesis for making a long term commitment. It’s a wealth of riches for the L.A. stop given Tiger’s involvement, the cachet of Riviera and a prime spot on the calendar for drawing big audiences.
Reducing the field from 144 to 120 is, in part, a statement about the inability of getting a full field around Riviera this time of year. As I noted for Golfweek, a tournament that has gone from 156 to 144 to 120 should open a few eyes to the perils of chasing distance to the point a course cannot defend itself or function. Slow play is often more than just about golfers not making up their mind.
The downside to this news?
The event has been an “Open” competition since 1926 and with that comes a spot for the local PGA section, amateur qualifiers or the successful “Collegiate Showcase” replacement. Throw in four Monday qualifying spots and we know larger fields deliver more storylines, diversity and competitiveness. They also help offset some of the dead weight that turns up too often ( welcome again to LA Vijay, enjoy LAX on a Friday night!).