ANALYSIS: Tour Punches Again – International Golf Put up

Home » ANALYSIS: Tour Punches Again – International Golf Put up

After absorbing the public-relations impression of LIV Golf luring Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka away in its bid to change into skilled golf’s most desired vacation spot, the PGA Tour started punching again Wednesday afternoon.

Briefly, the tour’s response was:

Extra big-money occasions for the highest gamers;

The return to a calendar season in 2024;

And, a major restructuring to how the tour schedule will function, together with the FedEx Cup playoffs.

It was the PGA Tour’s method of defending and strengthening its belongings, a significant transfer designed to go on offense after weeks of taking part in protection in opposition to the LIV Golf initiative.

“I’m not naive. If that is an arms race and if the one weapons listed below are greenback payments, the PGA Tour can’t compete. The PGA Tour, an American establishment, can’t compete with a international monarchy that’s spending billions of {dollars} in an try to purchase the sport of golf.” – Jay Monahan

Will it’s sufficient to cease prime gamers from leaping to the Greg Norman-led, Saudi-funded collection that can play its second occasion subsequent week in Portland, Oregon?

It was a mandatory step, for positive.

“I’m not naive. If that is an arms race and if the one weapons listed below are greenback payments, the PGA Tour can’t compete,” commissioner Jay Monahan stated on the Vacationers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut. “The PGA Tour, an American establishment, can’t compete with a international monarchy that’s spending billions of {dollars} in an try to purchase the sport of golf.

“We welcome good, wholesome competitors. The LIV Saudi golf league shouldn’t be that. It’s an irrational risk, one not involved with the return on funding or true development of the sport.”

LIV Golf stated in a press release that the PGA Tour “has made the case for LIV Golf. They’ve underpaid gamers for years, didn’t innovate and at the moment confirmed that LIV’s format is best. We welcome the announcement, which proves competitors can develop the sport and profit golfers, all of the whereas enhancing the expertise for followers — which is strictly what LIV is doing. As a substitute of banning gamers, the tour ought to now work on coexisting with us. In any case, we’re simply getting began.”

Whereas quite a lot of the sport’s greatest and hottest gamers have pledged their allegiance to the PGA Tour – Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth amongst them – the tour wanted to do one thing to push again in opposition to the Saudi-backed new league.

After saying they might keep on the PGA Tour, Brooks Koepka (left) and Dustin Johnson change their thoughts and depart for LIV Golf. Picture: Ben Jared, PGA Tour by way of Getty Pictures

Some gamers – Johnson and Koepka, particularly – had stated they might stay on the PGA Tour, solely to vary their minds. Koepka’s announcement was timed for launch at 1 p.m. Wednesday, simply as Monahan was saying the tour’s new plans.

“I’m upset that Brooks Koepka has left and joined the LIV Golf collection,” Monahan stated, including he had not spoken on to Koepka concerning the transfer.

The tour is actually doubling down on its strengths whereas making its schedule extra engaging to prime gamers. Whereas gamers nonetheless will be capable to select the place they play – LIV Golf requires gamers to compete in all of its eight scheduled occasions – it seems extra possible that almost all of them will play comparable schedules due to the cash being supplied.

If there’s a hazard to the monetary growth, it’s the potential of making what seems to be a two-tiered tour, one for the celebrities and one other for the rank and file. Additionally, how will sponsors of long-standing tournaments react to different occasions receiving extra money and, consequently, higher fields?

Beginning subsequent yr, eight occasions will provide considerably elevated purses, all however one in every of them at $20 million or larger.

“That is one thing that we’re doing to reply on behalf of our members to the present setting that we’re in.” – Jay Monahan

The Sentry Match of Champions, which usually has a discipline of about 30 gamers, will enhance from $8.2 million this yr to $15 million subsequent yr.

The Genesis Invitational, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the WGC-Dell Applied sciences Match Play, the Memorial Match, the FedEx St. Jude Championship and the BMW Championship will provide $20 million purses subsequent yr. The Gamers Championship will enhance its purse to $25 million.

Moreover, three occasions within the fall – after the FedEx Cup season ends in August – are anticipated to be added with purses of a minimum of $20 million apiece and maybe restricted to the highest 50 gamers within the FedEx Cup race.

Monahan stated it’s a rise of $45 million in purses, and although there have been long-term plans to boost prize funds, the second pushed the tour into motion.

“That is one thing that we’re doing to reply on behalf of our members to the present setting that we’re in,” Monahan stated.

It’s potential the fields at some occasions, together with the Genesis Invitational, the API and the Memorial, may very well be considerably diminished with opposite-field occasions being performed for many who don’t qualify.

Monahan acknowledges “there’s extra work to be completed.” Picture: Michael Reaves, Getty Pictures

The purse will increase can be funded by sponsor assist and supplemented by the tour’s working reserves, in keeping with a narrative on the tour’s web site.

“There’s extra work to be completed and particulars to verify, however implementing substantial modifications to our schedule provides us the perfect alternative to not solely drive earnings to our gamers, but additionally enhance our product and create a platform for continued development sooner or later,” Monahan stated.

The FedEx Cup playoffs additionally can be restructured, with solely the highest 70 factors earners advancing to the three-tournament finals somewhat than the highest 125. These exterior the highest 70 can be left to safe their spot among the many prime 125 on the finish of the calendar via a collection of fall occasions.

Is it sufficient?

It’s unclear how way more the tour can do. Although Monahan spoke typically phrases about enhancing the tour’s strategic alliance with the DP World Tour, it stays unclear whether or not CEO Keith Pelley will go together with that as he’s reportedly contemplating a working settlement with LIV Golf.

The R&A confirmed earlier Wednesday that LIV Golf members can be allowed to play within the Open Championship subsequent month, having certified below the prevailing laws. The USGA made the same resolution concerning its latest U.S. Open. Whether or not the majors regulate to ban LIV gamers stays to be seen.

“They’ve decided about their 2022 championships. How they’re going to proceed to take a look at this present scenario, the present setting, that’s as much as them,” Monahan stated.

“We’re enthusiastic about what we’ve introduced at the moment. And there’s extra thrilling information to return.” – Jay Monahan

Monahan and the tour have identified this risk was coming for some time. The Premier Golf League’s Andy Gardiner and LIV Golf, led by Norman, sought conferences with Monahan, however he didn’t reply to both.

Some gamers privately have expressed frustration that Monahan didn’t a minimum of take heed to what these teams have been pitching, however the commissioner defended his strategy.

“We’re happening our path. We’re going to proceed to go down our path,” Monahan stated.

“We’re enthusiastic about what we’ve introduced at the moment. And there’s extra thrilling information to return. And we’re going to do it as a tour, as a collective, and with a gaggle of members which are squarely behind their tour.”

High: PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan addresses the media Wednesday previous to the Vacationers Championship at TPC River Highlands. Picture: Michael Reaves, Getty Pictures

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