Tiger Woods denied this pro's Genesis Invitational request. He qualified anyway

Charley Hoffman charged up the leaderboard at the WM Phoenix Open over the weekend, and now he’s earned himself another start — to a tournament to which he orginally hadn’t been invited.

Hoffman, 47, has won more than $34 million in his career, but he made just 13 of 31 cuts last season and didn’t record a top 10. He finished 137th in the FedEx Cup standings, so he was forced to play this season on his top 50 career money exemption.

He failed to finish in the top 40 in his first three starts of the year and entered this week ranked 300th in the world. But then? He fired weekend rounds of 64 to nearly win the WM Phoenix Open, losing in a playoff to Nick Taylor.

“I didn’t really falter, so I’ve got to give Nick credit,” Hoffman said Sunday in Phoenix. “He came back with birdies on 16 and 18 and then 18 and 18 (in the playoff). He birdied four of the last five holes he played. Hats off to him for doing that. I played my butt off. I gave myself a chance. But I love the juices. I love competing. This builds a little fire in the belly. I definitely want to be back here.”

Part of what slowed Hoffman last year was his health, but he said that started to get better toward the end of last season. He said it’s been a long process.

“My back has been bad and just a lot of maintenance, and it’s been nice to be able to show up every week and be able to practice and play and not just hopefully get a start and get in the round,” he said. “I can’t compete against these guys with a sore back, but if I’m healthy, I’ve still got it.

“I want to kick all these young guys’ butts, believe me,” he said. “I sit back and I want to beat them. I want to be in these Signature Events. I want to be one of the best in the world again. If I’m healthy I can compete, and I want to show these guys I’ve still got it.”

Problem is, getting into Signature Events isn’t easy. The PGA Tour introduced Designated Events last season. Tweaks were made for 2024, and now there are eight — renamed Signature Events — with smaller fields and many with no cuts. They are big-money tournaments with lots of status to be gained, but there’s also fewer spots for pros — like Hoffman — to claim. In fact, fresh Hoffman’s his runner-up finish at the WM Phoenix Open, this week’s Genesis Invitational, hosted by Tiger Woods, wasn’t even on Hoffman’s radar. That is until a reporter updated him on his schedule for this week.

The Aon Swing 5, that’s moved you in [to the Genesis].

“Did it?” Hoffman asked, smiling. [Ed note: The Aon Swing 5 tracks the top five players in the FedEx Cup standings — not already exempt into the next Signature Event — based on their performances in full-field tournaments between Signature Events. Players who play well enough between Signature Events can earn a spot into the next one.] “That’s awesome. I’m excited about that. I guess I’m playing next week and not going skiing.”

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You were planning to go skiing? Where?

“We were planning on going to Mammoth [Mountain in California] skiing for a few days. I guess we’re going to have to change those plans,” he said. “A little inside story: I asked Tiger for an exemption and he said they’re all taken, so I said, ‘I’ll play my way in,’ so I guess I did.”

Hoffman grabbed one of the five from the events that included the Sony Open, American Express, Farmers Insurance Open and WM Phoenix Open. Grayson Murray, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Kevin Yu and Matthieu Pavon received the other four (although word is Pavon might not play, meaning Justin Thomas, who was sixth in the standings, would take that spot).

Now, after one big week, Hoffman is canceling his ski plans and heading to Los Angeles — with a special invite from Mr. Woods not needed.

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