PGA Tour: Big Move To Back Away From Woods

AT&T earlier today announced it was dropping its sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods AT&T National Poster

(Woods ‘leave of absence’ excuse to permanently strip him as host?)

Just as significant though was the less-reported news that the PGA Tour also announced that Woods would not be hosting the AT&T National Tournament on July 11-14.

Woods has also been the host of the AT&T National PGA TOUR event since it started in 2007. TOUR spokesman Ty Votaw said that since Woods is on indefinite leave from professional golf, he will not serve as host for the 2010 event. However, his Tiger Woods Foundation will continue to be the beneficiary of the AT&T National, under a contract that runs through 2014, Votaw said.

The National was a remade tournament largely manufactured by the PGA Tour with the express intention of creating an association with Woods.

So Woods is gone from the tourney, and all indications are the move could very well be permanent, which would leave the golfer without any PGA Tour stop association when he eventually comes back.

Votaw notes in his comments that the tournament is contractually bound to distribute proceeds to the Woods foundation through 2014. That sure sounds like he’s indicating that without a legal agreement, perhaps the charity would no longer be a beneficiary of the tournament. Why else mention the contract?

More importantly, the move by the PGA Tour to announce Woods’ non-participation indicates that Tour officials either know that Woods will not be back by the July start date of the tournament or that the Tour and AT&T National officials are stripping Woods of his hosting duties permanently.

If PGA Tour officials thought Woods was coming back before July, why would they make the announcement that Woods would not host the tournament? Other than to indicate he’d been stripped of his hosting duties permanently.

Neither scenario is desirable for Woods, and shows that the PGA Tour is apparently just as enthusiastic as AT&T at backing away from its biggest star. That’s especially stunning considering it’s Woods’ charitable organization that will suffer most from these machinations.

I think the Tour’s move could actually end up being more significant than what AT&T did today - as this is the first break by the Tour away from its biggest star.

Thanks to for headsup.