PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Peter Malnati understands why some of his fellow competitors might take issue with three of the four sponsor exemptions into the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am being granted to members of the PGA Tour’s player directors on the Policy Board — namely Adam Scott, Webb Simpson and himself — who happened to be among the six players who voted unanimously to approve the Tour’s billion-dollar deal with Strategic Sports Group.
As Golfweek reported this week, multiple players described the choices for exemptions into the first-time signature event with a limited field of 80 and playing for $20 million with no cut as “shady,” “fishy” and “collusion.”
“You don’t even have to be looking at it to see that that could look bad,” Malnati said. “I get that.”
But Malnati also defended his selection as one of the four invites.
“I know why I felt worthy of writing a letter to get an exemption here. It’s not because I’m on the board. It’s not because I vote. I felt worthy writing a letter because I come to this event every single year that I’ve been on Tour, and I don’t think there’s ever been an amateur play with me who didn’t have the time of their life. That’s why I felt comfortable writing a letter asking for an exemption,” he said. “If the reason I got that exemption is because I’m on the board, that’s not right. If the reason I got the exemption is because this is my 10th year, I would say six of the nine I’ve played with Don Colleran from FedEx, but those other three years I played with three different amateurs, and there’s always two amateurs in your group, not just one, and I take pride in making sure that those guys or gals have the time of their life. I think that gets back to Steve John and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation that if you come to this tournament, if you’ve never heard of Peter Malnati, he might be the guy that you want to play with.
“That’s why I felt comfortable asking for one. That’s why I feel comfortable having gotten one. If I got one because I’m a board member and that’s the only reason, I’ll fully admit that’s not right, but I don’t think that’s why I got one, and that’s certainly not why I asked for one.”
Dennis Roberson, who has been the longtime tournament manager of the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial CC in Fort Worth, Texas, wrote on social media that the complaint by players over the AT&T exemptions is “way overblown…