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Boost to Arnie and Jack tourneys

The PGA Tour is honoring two of its most important players -- Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus -- by making their tournaments a little more meaningful in what has become a crowded golf schedule.

In a resolution approved at the last policy board meeting, winners of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the Memorial will receive a three-year exemption, instead of the two-year exemption from other PGA Tour events.

The tour also is discussing whether to allow the prize money at their events to be the highest this side of a major, World Golf Championship or The Players Championship.

Palmer and Nicklaus, along with a half-century of star power in golf, led the move in the late 1960s to break away from the PGA of America and form what is now the PGA Tour. Palmer bought Bay Hill in the late 1970s, and it has become a staple on the Florida swing. Nicklaus started his tournament at Muirfield Village in 1976.

In some respects, the tour is acknowledging how difficult it is for tournaments to distinguish themselves. In the last 15 years, the PGA Tour has added four WGCs and three FedEx Cup playoff events to the schedule.

"This was more our desire to recognize two iconic figures who started and operate two world-class tournaments that for decades were linchpins on our schedule," said Andy Pazder, the tour's chief of operations. "We wanted to make sure their place on the tour calendar, as far as being a high-caliber, world-class event, was secure for well into the future."

It was unlikely the Byron Nelson Championship would get the same treatment. That event was around for two decades in Dallas until Nelson's name was attached to it.