Duval, Hart among those benefiting from 'family crisis' exemption

MONTREAL -- 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.

"David wanted us to look past him," said Davis Love III, a
policy board member.

The result is "family crisis" being part of the medical
extension regulations, and both Duval and Hart will be eligible.

"He's treated as if he had a back injury," said Andy Pazder,
the tour's vice president of competition.

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.

"It's the right thing," Duval said last week. "I actually got
thanked for bringing this up. I said to them a couple of months
ago, whether they make it retroactive or not, it needs to be

As for other situations that might arise? Pazder said like any
medical extension request, the decision lies with Finchem.

"It's got to be a serious family crisis," he said. "It's a
hardship caused by the illness of immediate family."