PGA Tour unveils new plans to fight LIV

Faced with its most serious existential threat ever, the PGA Tour has rolled out a series of major new initiatives and paydays designed to combat the growing threat now presented by the LIV Golf breakaway tour.

LIV Golf, a Saudi-backed golf tour, has cut the PGA Tour dramatically by promising more freedom and, more importantly, more money. Some of the biggest names on the PGA Tour – Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia – have moved on to LIV, with the possibility that more defections lie ahead.

To avoid those defections, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced a number of significant changes on Tuesday designed to help top players on the Tour get more time while getting better paid.

Starting next year, the PGA Tour will return to a calendar year season, a change from the current “wraparound” schedule, which begins in October. The FedEx Cup qualifiers will expand from 125 players to 70, and players will have the opportunity to work their way to exempt status through six fall events. The Tour will also host a three-event Global Series for the top 50 players in the FedEx Cup leaderboard.

Monahan said the changes were driven in large part by the challenge of the LIV Tour. “We welcome good, healthy competition,” he said. “The LIV Saudi Golf League is not that. It’s an irrational threat, not caring about return on investment or real growth in the game.”

As if to underscore this threat, the LIV Golf Tour announced at Monahan’s press conference that four-time major winner Koepka would move to LIV.

“The PGA Tour, an American institution, cannot compete with a foreign monarchy spending billions of dollars trying to buy the game of golf,” Monahan said.

However, the Tour unlocks more money for eight of its main tournaments:

  • The Sentry Tournament of Champions will increase to $15 million.

  • The Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, WGC-Dell Match Play, Memorial Tournament, FedEx St. Jude Invitational and BMW Championship will reach $20 million.

  • The Players Championship will increase to $25 million.

Additionally, the winner of the FedEx Cup will receive $18 million and several events will become non-cut events, which means guaranteed earnings for all players who qualify.

The new schedule means that the Tour will run approximately from January to August and will not disadvantage players who wish to take some time off. Currently, a new season starts just a few days after the end of the Tour Championship.

The new fall series, a six-tournament event with a bye for next season, will have a level of drama and uncertainty that the current fall season simply doesn’t have.

“I fundamentally believe that these tournaments in the fall,” Monahan said, “given the importance and significance that an opportunity to be on the PGA Tour means, to qualify for invitations, to keep your card, I think that this moment is going to be, while different from what it has been in the past, I think it’s going to be very exciting for the fans and I think it will create great energy in the fall.

The changes will come into effect for the 2023 season.

CROMWELL, CONNECTICUT – JUNE 22: PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan speaks to the media during a press conference ahead of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 22, 2022 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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Contact Jay Busbee at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.

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