Pebble Beach has cleared a path for Tiger Woods’ return.
The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, an early-season Tour stop that Woods hasn’t played since 2002, will trim the size of its field to help speed play. The cut, from 180 to 156 players, was OK’d by the Tour Policy Board. That’s 48 fewer players – 24 pros and their amateur partners.
Woods, a California native who won the 2000 Pebble Beach Pro-Am, cites the five-hour-plus rounds as a reason for not having returned.
“All three parties – AT&T, the PGA Tour and the tournament – supported the decision,” said Ollie Nutt, president and CEO of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation.
The tournament will recoup some of the lost revenue by increasing the pro-am fee from $14,500 to $16,800.
Three other reasons why Woods likely will return:
• Poppy Hills has been bounced from the rota in favor of Peninsula’s Shore Course;
• the 2010 U.S. Open will be played at Pebble Beach this summer;
• AT&T is one of his main sponsors.