After the media and Ponte Vedra spent thousands of words criticizing the Greg Norman’s breakaway tour as nothing but a series of big-money exhibitions, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan appears to be copying LIV Golf’s model and will announce eight new (or repurposed) $20 million events as a response to the threat posed by upstart golf tour.
Eight events. $20 million purses. Limited-player fields. No cut.
Five of the tournaments are already established as elite events and will just be upgraded even more (Sentry Tournament of Champions, WGC-Dell Match Play and the three big Invitationals (Genesis, Bay Hill, Memorial)). The tour will also increase the purse of its flagship PLAYERS Championship, from $20 million to $25 million. They will also add a series of three consecutive World Golf Championship-type events – replacing its fall Asian Swing. These new WGC-like events will be contested internationally, in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
The main thing, though, is none of the changes address LIV Golf’s lighter schedule which is what many “defectors” cited.
This plan doesn’t lighten the load, whatsoever. In fact, it increases it.
For instance, in the past, marquee names may have played one or two fall events, tops. They will now play three with the tour is using money as a forcing function.
Counting the eight new (or upgraded) events, coupled with the four majors, the PLAYERS, and the three legs of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, there will be 16 elite-field events per year for the tour’s big names. Is that all they will be required to play?
If so, where does this leave the 30 or so other events on the PGA Tour schedule, from January through August, such as Pebble Beach, the Farmers, Phoenix, the Honda, the Valspar, the Travelers, the John Deere, Greensboro, etc. Will the tour require players to tee it up in a certain number of lower tier events, or allow events to pay these marquee names an appearance fee?
Also, while the old wrap-around schedule will be turned into a qualifying series for those (outside the top 70) who missed the playoffs, the new three-stop WGC-like fall series will reportedly not even count towards any official tour statistics (points, money, wins, trophies) and will be considered part of the PGA Tour’s silly season where players tee it up in made-for-TV events like Tiger’s Hero event, or the PNC Father Son Championship.
All of this sounds almost identical to what Monahan criticized two weeks ago in Canada, claiming LIV golfers were playing only for money, “in a series of exhibition matches against the same players over and over again.”