There are four majors in pro golf: the Masters, the PGA, the U.S. Open and the British Open. Each is owned by a unique entity outside of the PGA Tour: Augusta National (Masters), PGA of America (PGA), USGA (U.S. Open) and R&A (British Open).
This annoys the Tour to no end. Here they are the professional golf tour that primarily fills out the fields of the major championships, yet they don’t own the rights to any of the four biggest events on their schedule.
So, for decades, the PGA Tour has been promoting the PLAYERS Championship as golf’s “fifth major,” hoping one day it would become official.
And yet in 2023, they had the opportunity right in front of them – a slam dunk case to make it a major – and they blew it.
With the launch of the LIV Golf league, the PGA Tour banned any player who teed it up on the competing tour. Those banned by the monopolistic tour included some of the game’s most prominent and familiar names: Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Joaquin Niemann, and Abraham Ancer, among many others.
However, the four majors are permitting these LIV golfers entry, essentially saying: as major championships, they are separate from the PGA Tour and want the best world class players in their respective fields.
It was teed up so perfectly for Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan to finally add a fifth major to the pro golf circuit. And yet, he didn’t even whiff. He simply never swung.
Monahan and company could have kept their ban in place, while making an exception for the PLAYERS, allowing LIV golfers, who qualify, to tee it up at TPC Sawgrass. Thus, effectively cementing the PLAYERS Championship as golf’s fifth major, forever.
Instead, the PLAYERS will not be golf’s fifth major, and there will now be an asterisk next to the 2023 winner due to the banning of the tournament’s 2022 champion along with many of the world’s best players, including the final top-three finishers in 2022 (1. Cam Smith, 2. Anirban Lahiri and 3. Paul Casey).