Tiger Woods has joined Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in receiving icon status by the PGA Tour, with his Genesis Open elevated to an invitational starting next year.
On Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan revealed the Woods-hosted tournament in Los Angeles would be given the same treatment as Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament in Ohio and Palmer's event at Bay Hill, Florida.
Held at the iconic Riviera Country Club, the Genesis will lose its open status and become an invite-only field, which will be reduced from 144 golfers to 120.
The winner will receive a three-year exemption on the PGA Tour, matching the Palmer and Nicklaus events in offering one extra year than regular victories.
Perhaps most significantly, its prize money will near that of golf's four majors with a US$1.9 million (AU$2.7m) increase to US$9.3m (AU$13.1m) – among the largest purses on the American circuit.
The winner's share will be $1.674m (AU$2.36) – $300,000 (AU$423,000) less than the Masters and PGA Championship.
Woods initially chose to host the tournament given he grew up in nearby Cypress, California, and made his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old amateur at the 1992 LA Open at Riviera.
From next year, it is expected the winner will ceremonially shake Woods' hand – a tradition at Nicklaus's Memorial and at Bay Hill before Palmer's death in 2016.
"(I'm) honoured to be included in this category; to do it where I grew up and where my entire career got started, I couldn't ask for a more (symbolic) outcome," Woods said.
RIGHT: Woods has won the Memorial Tournament four times, including 2012 (pictured). PHOTO: Andy Lyons/Getty Images.
"To go alongside Jack and Arnold, two guys I have looked up to my entire playing career, is very special.
"I've been lucky enough to have won those two events and it's been so special to walk off those greens and see those two gentlemen."
Woods is an eight-time winner at Bay Hill and four-time Memorial champion.
Monahan said that for a player to be considered by the PGA Tour to host an invitational, he would have to own at least 60 career victories.
Palmer claimed 62 titles while Nicklaus amassed 73.
Woods has already claimed 80 wins and is just two behind Sam Snead on top of the PGA Tour's all-time list.
"This is about elevating this event into an invitational, an elite position in our schedule; it becomes harder and more desirable to get into," Monahan said.
Ironically, 43-year-old Woods does not have a good record at Riviera.
The 14-time major winner has played the event 12 times with runner-ups in 1998 and 1999 his best result.
Woods did not play the event from 2007 until last year, when he missed the cut.
- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press