The PGA Tour has announced some further major changes to its tournament schedule and its prize money and payment structure as part of its on-going bid to prevent more of the game’s top players deserting the tour to join the LIV Golf Series.
Speaking on the eve of the Tour Championship at East Lake, where the winner will pick up an $18m pay out, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan listed four key changes to the 2023 schedule and beyond that he said will “better serve its players, fans, sponsors and media partners”. These include 12 ‘Elevated Events’ in 2023, a commitment from the top players to play in 20 events, an expansion of the Player Impact Program (PIP), and guaranteed minimum earnings.
Four new ‘Elevated Events’, in addition to the eight previously revealed, bring the total to 12, each of which will have an average purse of $20m (£17m). Players in the top 20 of the PIP have committed to play in all 12 events, The Players Championship and three added events of their choosing, plus the four Major championship. Players will receive their PIP bonus at the end of the season after competing in the 12 Elevated Events and three non-elevated events.
The previously announced ‘Elevated Events’ are the Sentry Tournament of Champions, The Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play and the three FedExCup Playoffs events. The remaining elevated tournaments will be announced in due course.
Monahan said: “Today is a culmination of a strengthened partnership between the Tour and the players, and amongst the players themselves. It’s unprecedented for our Tour and a testament to who these guys are and what they believe in,” said Monahan. “Our top players are firmly behind the Tour, helping us deliver an unmatched product to our fans, who will be all but guaranteed to see the best players competing against each other in 20 events or more throughout the season.”
Asked if LIV Golf players who were impressed by the changes to the PGA Tour would be welcomed back, Monahan said: “No. They’ve joined the LIV Golf Series and they’ve made that commitment, and many have made a multi-year commitment. I’ve been clear throughout. Every player has a choice and I respect that choice. I think they understand that.”
The Tour’s announcement comes a week after Tiger Woods flew to Delaware ahead of the BMW Championship to lead a players-only meeting, with Rory McIlroy also a key figure. “Everyone in that room realised that this is the best way forward,” McIlroy said. “We have all made a commitment to get together more often to make the product more compelling.”
In other changes designed to counteract LIV Golf’s guaranteed prize money offering, the PGA Tour is launching an ‘Earnings Assurance Program’ for fully exempt members from the Korn Ferry Tour category and above. This has a guaranteed league minimum of $500,000 per player, but they must play in at least 15 events. This replaces the ‘Play15’ programme and rookies and returning members will receive money upfront. There is also a new ‘Travel Stipend Program’ for PGA Tour members in the 126-150 category and below, who will will receive $5,000 for every missed cut to help to subsidise their travel and tournament-related expenses.