The top 20 players on the tour will commit to playing in at least 20 events, including all four majors and the FedEx Cup playoffs, which PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan says will ensure competitive grounds. and a better product.
“With the best interests of the collective in mind, these players have come together to strengthen the tour platform, recognizing that while fans are going to invest in the PGA Tour, it means so much more if they know players are investing. well back,” Monahan said at a press conference in Atlanta, site of this week’s Tour Championship.
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The pledge was in part the result of a players-only meeting held last week where stars such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy built player support and sought buy-in from the best players in the world. game as LIV continues to poach through their ranks with lucrative pursuits. contract offers.
“When I watch a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I expect to see Tom Brady throwing a football,” McIlroy told reporters Wednesday. “When I log on to a Formula 1 race, I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in a car. Sometimes what happens on the PGA Tour is that we all act independently, and we have in sort of our own schedules. And that means we never really meet that often.
“What came out of the meeting…we all made a commitment to meet more often, to make the product more appealing,” he continued.
The tour increased the prize money to further incentivize players. Starting next season, the tour will raise four non-major tournaments, offering $20 million in prize money each, which will add approximately $46 million to the total prize pool available.
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The Tour is also expanding its Player Impact Program, a bonus system introduced last year as a way to reward players who help promote the game, and will now reward 20 players instead of 10. The money will double to $100 million, and the top player will pocket $15 million.
The tour also established a guaranteed minimum of $500,000 per player, money that rookies will receive upfront. Non-exempt players will receive $5,000 for missed cuts and subsidized trips.
One of the biggest complaints from some stars who have jumped to LIV Golf, including Phil Mickelson, is that the PGA Tour hasn’t done enough to empower and reward players. LIV Golf has hosted three events and signed many of the PGA Tour’s most recognizable names, prompting several PGA Tour changes in response.
“While I probably don’t want to give Phil credit, yeah, there are some points he was trying to make, but there’s a way to address them,” McIlroy said. “There’s a way to collaborate, and there’s a way – you get all the best players in the world together and get them on the same page. Then you go on tour, and you come up with ideas, and you work together. You know, it’s pure collaboration. It’s not some kind of renegade group trying to take over the PGA Tour.
“Did any of his ideas have merit? Of course they did,” he continued. “But he just didn’t approach it in the right way.”
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McIroy also announced a new venture that will look at least like the LIV product, which includes a team format and targets a younger audience. McIlroy and Woods launched TMRW Sports this week, which will partner with the PGA Tour for tag team matches taking place on Monday nights beginning in January 2024. The events will be more like golf simulator competitions than traditional golf , with a promise of 18 holes completed in two hours.
“It’s a great opportunity for PGA Tour players to show another side of themselves,” McIlroy said. “I think Monday nights in prime time are great for brand exposure to try to engage a different audience. We’ve all heard of the age of the golf public, trying to attract younger looks. And I just think it’s going to be a really, really cool concept.
Published reports suggest that up to seven other players, including British Open winner Cameron Smith, could defect to LIV after this weekend’s Tour Championship, and it remains to be seen whether any will be swayed by the new measures. McIlroy said he contacted Smith two days after the British Open to make sure he was aware of some of the pending changes.
“I’ve always said this: Guys can do whatever they want,” McIlroy said. “Guys can make a decision that they think is best for themselves and for their family. But I just like guys to make decisions based on all the facts. And sometimes I don’t think some guys have made those decisions based on all the facts before them.
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Monahan was asked if any LIV players would be allowed to return to the circuit and compete under the new measures next season, and he answered bluntly, “No.”
“As I’ve been clear throughout, every player has a choice, and I respect their choice, but they did it,” he said. “We made ours. We will continue to focus on the things we control and grow stronger and stronger.
Citing the antitrust lawsuit that 11 LIV players have filed against the PGA Tour, Monahan declined to discuss whether any LIV players would be welcome further down the road.
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