The PGA Tour made its boldest response to the Saudi-funded rival league on Wednesday with a plan for top players to commit to a 20-tournament schedule in which they will compete up to 17 times to average purses of $20 million.
The Tour also doubles the bonus pool for its Player Impact Program to $100 million spread across 20 players, and it changes the criteria to be geared more towards media exposure.
Players starting their career will receive $500,000 at the start of the year which will count towards their earnings until the number is exceeded.
“This is not some kind of renegade group trying to take over the PGA Tour,” said Tour player-manager Rory McIlroy. “It’s, ‘OK, how can we make this tour better for everyone who’s going to play it now and everyone who’s going to play on the PGA Tour in the future.'”
Among the sweeping changes announced by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, the most significant is one that emerged from a private meeting of 23 top players last week: a new model that more often ensures the best play in the same tournaments .
“These players have come together to strengthen the tour platform, recognizing that if fans are going to invest in the PGA Tour, it means so much more if they know players are investing right away,” Monahan said.
The 20-tournament commitment begins in January with the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua and assumes the best players are eligible.
LIV Golf frontman Greg Norman responded with an Instagram meme in which Monahan says, “Hey can I copy your homework?” And then Norman’s response is, “Sure, make it look different so it doesn’t look obvious.” Norman added a comment: “A day late and a dollar short.”
LIV Golf, backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has paid big names – such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka – massive signing fees estimated at $150 million or more.
Each event has a $25 million purse for a 48-player, 54-hole field. The individual winner of the LIV event receives $4 million. The money attracted some two dozen PGA Tour players.
Most of the tour’s key tournaments were already in place – the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the Memorial; Kapalua and match play; the three FedEx Cup playoff events; the four majors and the Players Championship.
Four tournaments have yet to be announced which Monahan says will alternate between existing events during the FedEx Cup season – January through August – although the Scottish Open is under consideration to host a 20-day event. millions of dollars.
Players would also be required to play three more tournaments during the FedEx Cup season. This would throw a lifeline for tournaments that would otherwise struggle to attract top players.
But for the tour, it was a chance of everything but guaranteeing when and where to find the best players.
“When I watch a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I expect to see Tom Brady throwing a football. When I tune in to a Formula 1 race, I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in a car,” McIlroy said “I think what came out of last week’s meeting…is the fact that we all committed to meeting more often to make the product more compelling.”
The changes came quickly. Top players began gathering at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland last month and culminated in a players-only meeting involving 23 top players from the BMW Championship.
Tiger Woods flew to Delaware from his home in Florida for the reunion. Woods and McIlroy are considered the leaders of change among players, although all accounts point to the majority of them driving the changes.
“I think the one thing that’s happened over the years is that we’re all our own little independent businesses,” McIlroy said. “I think this is the first time in a long time that we’ve kind of all sat down and said, ‘Let’s try to be business partners.
“How can we all pull in the same direction here to benefit everyone and to help the whole tour and to help each other.”
Eligibility does not change and field sizes for high tournaments already on the schedule remain. Four of those eight events have a 36-hole cut. Monahan did not specify what eligibility would be for the four new tournaments.
The “top players” who commit to the 20-tournament schedule are defined by the Player Impact Program. The program involved paying the top 10 players from a $50 million bonus pool, with the ranking largely based on Q-rating and social media. Now, that’s for 20 players worth $100 million, with metrics like TV exposure, fan awareness and media mentions.
The announcement comes during the season-ending Tour Championship, where the FedEx Cup winner receives $18 million. The LIV Golf Series is set to announce a new PGA Tour player roster that will likely include up to six players.
The tour has already suspended players who joined LIV Golf – some quit – as soon as they play in Norman’s rival league.
Monahan declined to say if there was a way back for those who left for LIV. He cited the ongoing antitrust lawsuit several players have filed against the PGA Tour.
Two weeks ago, a federal judge denied a request from three LIV golfers seeking to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
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