The PGA Tour resumes this week at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California, in what had been the start of a new season under the old scheduling model.
With the tour smartly returning to a calendar schedule next year, the Fortinet is the first of seven fall tournaments – now called FedEx Cup Fall – that will culminate with the RSM Classic at Sea Island in Georgia in November.
It’s a better system than the old wraparound format, which tended to skew the points race.
Why do the fall events matter?
While the 70 players who qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs have locked in their status for next year, players outside the top 70 still can accumulate points through the fall and, thereby, enhance their playing status.
Another carrot is that the top 10 players in the points race at the end of the fall will earn spots in the first two signature events next year – the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational, both of which are no-cut, $20 million events.
For those outside the top 125, there are seven opportunities to play their way inside the magic number for full status in 2024.
Players who finish outside the top 125 and are not otherwise exempt will have the option of playing in the tour qualifying school in December, during which five tour cards will be awarded.
Max Homa, going for a three-peat in Napa, and Justin Thomas, both members of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, are the biggest names in the field this week.
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Like most of the U.S. team did last week, the European Ryder Cup team made a visit to Marco Simone earlier this week to get in some advance work before the matches begin in two weeks.
While nine Americans made the trip – Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele did not – all 12 European players went to Rome this week.
Additionally, all 12 of captain Luke Donald’s players will tee it up in this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, one of the jewels on the DP World Tour schedule.
Accuracy off the tee will be critical in Rome because the rough at Marco Simone is deep and dense. Traditionally that would figure to play to the Europeans’ advantage, but given their roster of long hitters – particularly Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Ludvig Åberg – it could force both sides to temper their aggressiveness at times.
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Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank (left), shown in discussions with Jay Monahan and Rory McIlroy, will own a TGL franchise, as will New York Mets owner Steve Cohen. (Photos: Streeter Lecka and Jim McIsaac, Getty Images)
While it still seems more conceptual than real, the new TGL continues to come together for what is planned to be a January debut.
The recent announcements that Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank will own an Atlanta team and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has purchased a New York franchise underpins the expanding foundation of the studio-based team competition driven largely by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
The league already had announced a Los Angeles-based team owned in part by tennis sisters Serena and Venus Williams and a Boston franchise owned by Fenway Sports. Two more franchises are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Although some observers see the TGL as a direct response to LIV Golf’s team competition, the TGL concept was in the works before LIV launched …
To this point, 12 PGA Tour players – Woods, McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler, Max Homa, Billy Horschel, Matt Fitzpatrick and Schauffele – have committed to participate, with six more to be announced. They will be part of three-player teams that will compete in a 15-match season, all staged at a new specially built venue in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Although some observers see the TGL as a direct response to LIV Golf’s team competition, the TGL concept was in the works before LIV launched, only to be slowed by the pandemic. By playing all matches in January and February near where many of the players are based, the TGL should not directly affect the players’ tour schedules.
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The relative quiet surrounding the ongoing merger discussions among the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund suggest the negotiations are proceeding without any major roadblocks at this point.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be any obstacles as the end-of-the-year deadline approaches, but in conversations recently at the Tour Championship, officials were quietly optimistic that an agreement will be reached later this fall.
If more time is needed, it’s conceivable that the negotiations could spill into early 2024, but that’s not the expectation.
With the PGA Tour’s ’24 schedule already announced, it’s apparent that no major changes are coming next year, at least not to the tour. It seems likely now that LIV will play another season, though the league has not announced its 2024 schedule. LIV still has three events remaining, culminating in Miami in late October.
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