Jay Monahan, commissioner of US golf’s prestigious PGA Tour, yesterday (June 22) announced a raft of reforms aimed at “offering a more compelling product for our players, fans, and partners.”
The changes come against the backdrop of numerous Tour players leaving to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, with its 19th-ranked Brooks Koepka the latest defection to have been confirmed.
They were reported yesterday ahead of being announced, having been worked up in conjunction with PGA Tour’s policy board and player directors before being confirmed in a letter to the Tour’s players.
Although LIV Golf Investments and its fledgling series were not mentioned by Monahan, the reforms are an attempt to head off the threat posed by them, with significantly increased prize purses at a number of events an attempt to placate any other players who may be tempted by the huge winnings on offer from LIV.
From 2023, the eight events will see their purses increased by a minimum of $5 million to a minimum of $15 million:
- Sentry Tournament of Champions – $15 million (up from $8.2M in 2022)
- The Genesis Invitational – $20 million (up from $12 million in 2022)
- Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard – $20 million (up from $12 million in 2022)
- THE PLAYERS Championship – $25 million (up from $20 million in 2022)
- WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play – $20 million (up from $12 million in 2022)
- the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday – $20 million (up from $12 million in 2022)
- FedEx St. Jude Championship – $20 million (up from $15 million in 2022)
- BMW Championship – $20 million (up from $15 million in 2022)
While these increases will go some way to convincing Tour players who may be on the fence to stay, they still fall short across the board of the average $31+ million prize purses available at each of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, the total prize money for which is over $250 million.
Also of interest to the Tour’s top players will be a reduction in field sizes from next year that will further increase their chances of earning more.
Only the top 70 will qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, rather than the current 125, with 50 rather than 70 going on to the BMW Championship, and a final 30 progressing to the season-ending Tour Championship event.
With an eye on innovating formats for players and fans, three international, no-cut, limited-field events to be contested by the top 50 from the final FedExCup top performers from the fall will be introduced.
The Tour will also return to a calendar-year schedule.
Monahan said: “These changes will further strengthen the FedExCup and create a strong, coordinated global schedule …
“While different than it’s been in the past, I think it’s going to be very exciting for fans and I think will create great energy in the fall.”
He noted that the changes required further work and that more details would be released in due course, but added: “Implementing substantial changes to our schedule gives us the best opportunity to not only drive earnings to our players but also improve our product and create a platform for continued growth in the future.”