Jacksonville, Fla. – Jack Nicklaus is as curious as anyone about how the new PGA Tour program will work with 20 million purses in 10 major tournaments and the Players Championship for $25 million. And that doesn’t include what the majors do.
The Memorial is one of the top tournaments, which is no surprise because the tournament Nicholas built has long been one of the main events, sandwiched between the PGA Championship and the US Open.
His biggest concern is creating two tours, and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said, “He’s got a little bit of work to do to figure that out.”
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet,” Nicholas said last week at Timucana Country Club. “I think the tour is going to get there, but the LIV thing pushed them. That’s pretty obvious. What it did was it made the PGA Tour two tiers. All of a sudden the other tournaments became stewards.”
Nicklaus participates in the Honda Classic at PGA National, which has the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation as its primary charity.
The Honda Classic field was as strong as any during the Florida swing in March, a three-year stretch that ends in 2016. In recent years, he was injured a week after the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera and the week before the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And The Players Championship.
Those are now elevated events. The Honda Classic has an $8.4 million purse next year.
“For the last four or five years, it’s been in a very difficult position, sitting between LA and Bay Hill. I think they want to get out,” Nicklaus said. “Since we’re consumers, I’ve had a reasonable conversation with Jay about it. I have a few ideas that we’re going to explore. We’re trying to move the day around and make it more meaningful.”
“But you know what? You go there and you find that people still live there. There’s a lot of people, they raise a lot of money and it’s fine even if some of the players aren’t there. It’s still great.”
It’s not just the Honda Classic. The Valspar Championship in the Tampa area falls after the Players and before the Dell Match Play. Four other races are still to be determined, with $20 million purses among the top events and how they fit into the suddenly tight schedule.
Nicklaus laughed as he recalled his $5.7 million career high.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “Today’s golfers are blessed with the money they make and raise and play. It’s unbelievable. But you look at other sports, they do the same thing.”