The World Golf Hall of Fame announced Wednesday that the age requirement for candidates is being raised to 50 effective immediately. It's a 10-year increase that makes a direct impact on Tiger Woods, who reached the previous age threshold of 40 last December.
Although the decision won't have any long-term impact on Woods since he's a lock to make the Hall of Fame once officially eligible, the timing is a bit odd since the sport's biggest star recently turned 40. Hall of Fame President Jack Peter explained why the choice was made, as relayed by the PGA Tour report:
We work very closely with our Hall of Fame Members to ensure all aspects of the Induction criteria are shrewd and judicious. As players continue to elevate their fitness levels and continue to play at a high level for a longer period of time, moving the age requirement to 50 ensures that we are able to celebrate their careers at the proper time.
There is an exception to the rule, which states candidates can become eligible if retired from their respective tours for at least five years. In turn, Woods could end up going in before he turns 50 if he decides to walk away from the game completely within the next five years.
That doesn't seem likely at this stage, though. The 14-time major champion stands four behind Jack Nicklaus for the all-time major victories record, which means he'll probably keep playing the top events for the foreseeable future, even if his schedule is otherwise limited.
Woods' status for next week's Masters remains uncertain. He hasn't played a competitive round on the PGA Tour since the Wyndham Championship last August. It would qualify as a surprise if he tees it up at Augusta on April 7, but it hasn't been completely ruled out.
The last update from Woods came in early March when he stated on his official site that he started chipping, putting and hitting 9-irons as he recovered from a back injury. He added there was "no timetable on my return to competitive golf."
On Monday, Rex Hoggard of Golf Channel reported that Woods' agent Mark Steinberg said there's "no further update" regarding the star's availability for the Masters. There is no commitment deadline for the season's first major, so it's unclear when an announcement will be made.
Ultimately, between aiming to get back to full strength after a string of injury woes and then trying to rediscover top form for one more magical run, Woods will remain busy in the years ahead. The task is even tougher with young stars like Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth taking over the game.
Thus, the timing of Woods' election to the Hall of Fame is likely low on his list of concerns right now. He'll get his day in the spotlight eventually, and since he has to wait a decade, an optimist would suggest he could pass Nicklaus for the major wins record by then.
Of course, winning five more majors becomes more of an uphill battle each year he's sidelined with nagging injury issues.