Sports Outside the Beltway

PGA Tour to grant medical extensions for players with a family crisis

The new policy will take effect in 2008.

MONTREAL (AP) – The PGA Tour has approved a new regulation that offers medical extensions to players who deal with a family crisis, a decision that will help David Duval and Dudley Hart next year.

Duval used a one-time exemption as top 25 on the career money list to keep his card this year, but it looked as though it might go to waste when his wife was put on bed rest in February because of complications with her pregnancy. Duval felt his responsibility was at home to care for his wife and four children, and he did not play for more than seven months.

Hart withdrew from the Wachovia Championship in May when his wife became seriously ill, and he stayed home with their 5-year-old triplets as his wife recovered. She is doing better, but Hart has not played since late April.

Duval, whose daughter Sienna was born two months ago and is healthy, originally asked the tour about an extension in May and was denied based on the letter of the regulation. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was concerned that granting an exemption in his case might open the tour up to a bevy of other petitions.

But after the policy board met in late May, there was enough sentiment to take another look.


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.

PGA Tour players are independent contractors unlike many if not sports athletes. I do think the tour’s policy change is the correct move. A crisis at home(I can speak from personal experience for my wife spent three months on bedrest including two in the hospital when pregnant with our son Daniel, can sap a person physically, mentally and emotionally. Your ultimate concern is for family member(s). Work seems either trivial or an annoyance in comparison) A tour player is fortunate in that they can schedule their work, but I think consideration should be given on a case by case basis like with Duval and Hart. Exemptions are given to players because of physical injuries they suffer, consideration for family emergencies is the compassionate thing to do.

Note- The LPGA Tour grants extensions to players who give birth in addition to those players who suffer injuries.

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