ATLANTA – PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced another series of controversial and lucrative changes Wednesday ahead of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.
In its ongoing battle with LIV Golf for the best players in the world, the PGA Tour gave another $146 million to players to retain them.
The changes come about a week after Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy led a meeting of 22 players at a hotel near the Wilmington Country Club in Delaware. The players brought their ideas to Monahan, and the tour quickly implemented many of the suggested changes.
“It’s normal, but I think when you’re in a situation like that, that’s understood,” Monahan said.
Here’s what we know about what’s changing on the PGA Tour for the 2022-23 season:
Monaghan cited changes affecting “top players.” who are they?
By definition on the PGA Tour, players who finish 20th in the Player Impact Program are called “Top Players.” They are required to compete at the end of the season for their PIP bonuses at the 13 major events, if they are eligible to compete in them, and three other major PGA Tour events.
For the 2022-23 postseason, the top 20 players in the current PIP formula and the revised one will count.
What are elevated events?
There are now 13 major events featuring top players: the three FedEx Cup Playoffs (FedEx St. Jude Championship, BMW Championship and Tour Championship), Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Memorial Tournament, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Sentry vs. PGA Tour tournaments include the Champions, Players and four undecided tournaments.
Who can play in the new higher tournaments?
Those details still need to be worked out. It’s unclear exactly whether PGA Tour members include the top 50 or the top 30. Or the top 70 players in between.
The “top 20 players” defined by the revised Player Impact Program, including Woods, may be exempt because of their popularity, even if they do not play in the required 20 events.
If they qualify, the top players compete in the four major championships – The Masters, PGA Championship, US Open and The Open – as well as three additional PGA Tour events.
“I think if you’re trying to sell a product to TV and get sponsors and eyeballs on professional golf as much as possible, you’ve got to at least let people know what you’re fixing,” McIlroy said. . “When I watch a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I expect to see Tom Brady throw a football. When I drive in a Formula 1 race, I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in the car.”
“Sometimes what happens on the PGA Tour is that we all work independently and have our own schedules, which means we don’t get together very often.”
Could the PGA Tour bring back players who left for LIV Golf with these changes?
The players want to come back, but many have signed multi-year contracts with LIV Golf. Top players, including former major champions Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, had deals that included signing bonuses between $100 million and $200 million. The PGA Tour’s drastic changes still don’t affect their bottom lines.
Monaghan also spoke on Wednesday when asked if a player who had given up on LIV Golf and had second thoughts about leaving after seeing the PGA Tour’s upgrades might come back. Would his suspension be lifted?
“No,” Monahan said. “They’ve joined the LIV Golf Series and they’ve made that commitment. For most of them, they’ve made a multi-year commitment. I’m clear, every player has a choice, and I respect their choice. But they’ve done it. We’ve made it ours. We’re going to get stronger and stronger by focusing on the things we can control.”
McIlroy hopes the increased purse and more high-profile events could influence some players to stick with the PGA Tour. McIlroy said he spoke to defending champion Cameron Smith two days after lifting the Claret Jug at St Andrews. Smith is about to head to LIV Golf with six or seven players after the PGA Tour regular season ends.
“People who think one way or the other, I really don’t care if they go or not,” McIlroy said. “It doesn’t matter to me. But at least I want people to make a fully informed decision and basically know that this is what’s coming down the pipe. This is probably something you can leave behind. I just don’t want people to make a decision.” [when they’re] Hearing information from one side, not the other.
How will the Player Impact Program be affected?
In addition to doubling the number of players who will benefit (from 10 to 20) and the amount of money distributed, the PGA Tour is also adjusting the formula by which players measure their impact on the tour. — or their most popular. Tiger Woods finished first in PIP after Phil Mickelson tipped on social media that he had won.
Monaghan will receive a $15 million bonus in 2022 and 2023.
The Tour has hired a research firm in September 2021 to conduct an “expanded player awareness survey” to look at data for more players and track awareness results among fans.
“We also identified significant changes in social media platform engagement, specifically how people engage with this media, which platforms are currently popular and which days can be measured,” the tour said in a statement. “Social media is a driver of awareness and a player’s level of engagement is a driver of their awareness.”
As a result of the study, from 2023, two different awareness points will be added and the social media component will be removed. Players are measured by internet searches, general awareness, golf fan awareness, media mentions and broadcast exposure.
“Finally, and this is coming from people smarter than me, it’s our data analytics team that has put a lot of time and effort into this. [senior vice president for data science and technology solutions] “When you look at the social media index, social media and all the platforms are changing, and your ability to measure them becomes increasingly challenging. Some are in the index; some are not,” said Mike Vitti, “Monahan” in particular.
Rory McIlroy says it was ‘amazing’ to have Tiger Woods and him in the room to talk about the future of the PGA Tour.
Will these changes create a big divide on the PGA Tour?
The PGA Tour has always been a circuit led by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player or Tiger Woods. The sport’s biggest names sell tickets and attract sponsors, advertisers and TV partners.
With past major champions like Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka losing to LIV Golf, the tour realized it needed to take better care of its major attractions.
“This is not some renegade group trying to capture the power of the PGA Tour,” Rory McIlroy said. “It’s, ‘OK, how can we make this tour better for everyone who plays on it now and everyone who plays on the PGA Tour?’
But McIlroy insists that every member of the PGA Tour who performs well on the course will have the opportunity to compete in higher-level events and earn more money in the Player Impact Program.
“The reason we’re trying to do this is we’re trying to build a tour for the future [and for] Young, ambitious players who want to be the best players in the game,” McIlroy said. “If you want to be the best players in the game, the PGA Tour is where you want to be because it’s pure meritocracy. There’s nothing stopping guys from playing at these top events. Nothing stopping guys from getting into the PIP. No. You just play better. You work your ass off, you play better, and if you do that, you get into these events.
Monaghan agreed that there is a clear path for young players to break into the top tier.
“Ultimately, becoming a player with the greatest impact on the organization starts with his competitive success on the field,” Monahan said. “When you have competitive success, obviously you’re on television more, people are following you more, you’re all telling more stories about these players, and you’re becoming more recognizable to fans, golf fans and sports fans and the general public.”
Where will the new events be played?
Monahan said the tour is still working out some details around those events. He said the top events would likely be rotated through the PGA Tour tournaments in the US.
“When we come back and what we do with those four events, where those events are played, what the eligibility requirements are, what the field sizes are, those are a lot of things we’ll be working on over the next 45 to 60 days,” Monahan said. “We can return this as a single.”
As the top four events roll around, such as the WM Phoenix Open or the AT&T Bryon Nelson, those tournaments will have much stronger fields than the top players used to jump from.
“I think every single member in general will benefit from this, and I think the tour as a whole will,” Jordan Spieth said. “I really believe it’s the sponsors, and I think all the races will see a better field, even if it happens a lot.”
How did the PGA Tour come up with all this money?
By announcing four more major events for the 2023 season, the PGA Tour has now committed $99.8 million to increase purses for next season. The tour estimates that the four new high-profile events alone will bring in an increase of $46 million, after previously pledging $48.8 million for the three FedEx Cup tournaments, the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the Genesis Invitational and the tournament to crush the purse. Arnold Palmer Invitational, Memorial Tournament, WGC-Dell Technology Match Game and Players.
That doesn’t even include the $100 million committed to double funding through the PIP in 2022 and 2023.
So where does the money come from? Jay Monahan said it is coming from three main sources: increased revenue from the 2021-22 season, reserves and sponsors and partners.
“This year the tour is coming off its strongest year in PGA Tour history and performing well ahead of budget,” Monahan said. “Secondly, the tour over the years has been very savvy in managing its finances and building reserves and investing in programs that help the tour grow. That’s what they’re there for and that’s why we use them.
In February, while still a member of the PGA Tour, Phil Mickelson criticized the tour’s “disgusting greed” for controlling players’ media rights, among other things. While Mickelson may have some valid points, the six-time major champion probably didn’t go about presenting his complaint in the right way.
“As much as I don’t want to give Phil any credit, yes, there were some points he wanted to make,” Rory McIlroy said. “But there’s a way they go about it. There’s a way of collaborating. You get all the best players in the world together and you get them on the same page. Then you go on tour and bounce ideas off and work together. It was pure collaboration.”
Will the changes affect the PGA Tour’s tax-exempt status?
Since the players-only meetings in Delaware, there has been much speculation about whether the PGA Tour would abandon its nonprofit status, which would have given it the cash flow to compete with LIV Golf. The PGA Tour operates as a tax-exempt 501(c)6 organization, and turning itself into a for-profit business could generate between $50 million and $75 million in tax revenue each year.
In a court filing filed in response to a federal antitrust lawsuit filed by three LIV golfers, PGA Tour lawyers wrote that 98% of its net profits are distributed annually to charities, players and tournaments.
“The 501(c)6 status and that integrity and what makes us who we are, that will always be the central fabric of who we are as an organization,” Jay Monahan said.
Monahan said the tour may want to partner with the PGA Tour to create for-profit affiliates like Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. Woods and McIlroy plan to launch a technology-enabled golf league in January 2024.