PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA | By the time many of the PGA Tour players gathered at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Mediterranean Revival-themed clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass to hear a detailed overview of how their workplace will look in 2024, it wasn’t so much a sales pitch as an orientation.
The sweeping reinvention of the tour’s structure has moved past the discussion stage and landed as a reality, the decisions made with the short- and long-term views coming into sharp focus.
The details – eight super-rich designated events plus the four major championships, the Players Championship and three FedEx Cup playoff events, with a scheduling cadence in place to enhance the other events – had been finalized in a seven-hour Policy Board meeting one week earlier.
The 90-minute session Tuesday just spelled out many of the details without turning up the temperature in the room.
“It was very moderate actually,” said Adam Scott, chairman of the Player Advisory Council which was instrumental in sculpting the PGA Tour’s next era. “The tour explained things very clearly so everybody could get their heads around things. Most will have understood that. Maybe some need a little more time to digest; maybe some don’t care.”
J.T. Poston and Jon Rahm play the same tour but with different levels of success. Both took a pass on attending the meeting. Rahm chose to use the morning to play with his two young children. Poston felt as if he already knew enough.
“Everything had already been decided … nothing was going to change,” Poston said. “I think I’m on the fence. I see both sides of it. I do like that good play is still going to take care of a whole lot for everybody. As long as it’s not taking away a lot of starts for guys not in the top 50 and as long as there’s enough churn and it’s not the same guys every year (in the top 50), I’m OK with it.”
Though commissioner Jay Monahan did his best to focus on the changes to the PGA Tour’s initiative during his 72-minute question-and-answer session with the media, players acknowledged the obvious. Without the bull-in-the-bank vault arrival of LIV Golf last year, the tour likely wouldn’t look nearly as different going forward as it now will.
It’s not what LIV is doing – 48-player, 54-hole, no-cut events – but approximately one-quarter of the tour’s future events will have limited fields and a guaranteed 72 holes for everyone. That means approximately 75 percent of tour events still will have a 36-hole cut.
“I’m not going to sit here and lie; I think the emergence of LIV or the emergence of a competitor to the PGA Tour has benefited everyone that plays elite professional golf,” said Rory McIlroy, one of the architects of the new system. “I think when you’ve been the biggest golf league in the biggest market in the world for the last 60 years, there’s not a lot of incentive to innovate.”
There will be 11 no-cut events in ’24 and, with the exception of the Players and the majors, they will have no more than 78 players. No-cut events aren’t new to the PGA Tour, but there have never been so many in a season.
Twenty-six of Tiger Woods’ 82 tour victories have come in no-cut events, Monahan said. More than one-third of Arnold Palmer’s tour wins – 23 of 63 – came in no-cut events. Jack Nicklaus had 17 such victories.
They weren’t, however, playing events with minimum $20 million purses.
What was explained to the players Tuesday morning is strikingly different from the basic framework that came out of the meeting led by Tiger Woods and McIlroy before the BMW Championship in Delaware last summer. That led to the designated events this year and the mandate that the top players tee it up in all but one this year.
There are no requirements to play designated events next year and the point was stressed that players, particularly those who are trying to crack the top 50 in FedEx Cup standing which opens multiple doors, are being offered plenty of opportunities.
It’s a more balanced structure than the one presented late last summer that was built almost entirely around the top players.
“The presentation in Delaware was very self-serving for the 20 players in that room,” said McIlroy, one of those 20 players.
The potential stratification between the top players and everyone else has been reduced.
“I can confidently say that it’s not two separate tours as much as that might be perceived that way,” Jordan Spieth said. “In Delaware, that first presentation was essentially two separate tours.
“To get to a place where every single full card holder can play in every single PGA Tour event that season meant there had to be some give from them. I think it was the right thing to do.”
Two days before the start of a Players Championship that features a $25 million purse, Scott offered his own bit of perspective.
“If you have a PGA Tour card right now, you are in a great place,” Scott said.
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