More money, schedule changes, no way back for LIV golfers: 5 takeaways from Jay Monahan’s press conference at the Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. — The Travelers Championship, with a date that many people would think is among the worst on the PGA Tour calendar—the week after the U.S. Open—is a success story that commissioner Jay Monahan loves to discuss. He knows the tournament well, having graduated from Trinity College, which is just 11 miles away from TPC River Highlands in Hartford. But on a soggy Wednesday afternoon, Monahan was in the media center to talk about something else: the threat the LIV Golf Series poses to the PGA Tour and what the tour plans to do moving forward.
As it turns out, Monahan spoke for just over 40 minutes and outlined a new structure the PGA Tour plans to implement soon.
Here are five key takeaways from his news conference.
FedEx Cup playoff season gets revised for 2023
Patrick Cantlay celebrates with Nikki Guidish and the FedEx Cup on the 18th green after winning during the final round of the 2021 Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. (Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
At the end of this season, which concludes with the final round of the Tour Championship on Aug. 28, the players ranked No. 125 and better on the FedEx Cup point list will qualify to compete in the first tournament of the FedEx Cup playoffs (the FedEx St. Jude Championship) and earn full exemptions on the PGA Tour for next season. But Wednesday, Monahan announced that the number would drop to 70 beginning in 2023.
There will still be three FedEx Cup playoff events, but the top 50 in the point standings will move on to the second round in 2023, and then the top 30 will advance to the Tour Championship after round two.
Golfers who fail to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs will need to earn their exemptions for the next season by playing in a series of events in the fall.
The calendar-based season returns
Rory McIlroy celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2022 RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Etobicoke, Ontario. (Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Starting in the fall of 2013, the PGA Tour adopted a wraparound schedule that ended in the late summer of 2014, but Monahan announced Wednesday that the tour intends to return to a calendar-based season in 2024. That means the 2024 PGA Tour season will start in January and end in late August, making it more condensed.
The advantage of this system, especially for elite players, is golfers can enjoy an off-season and not worry about returning to action in a low FedEx Cup point position.
“Selfishly, for me, I would like an off-season,” Rory McIlroy said Wednesday. “I would like to not turn up in February and be 150th in the FedEx Cup point list because I just didn’t want to play in the fall and I wanted to take some time off and spend some time with my family.”
However, starting in 2023, golfers who make it to the second round of the FedEx Cup playoffs will also qualify for a new series of up to three international events held in the fall. These events are expected to be held in Asia, Europe and the Middle East and have purses in the range of $20 million each.
Massive purse increases at eight events
Joaquin Niemann poses with the trophy after winning the 2022 Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Californiat. (Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
Some of the most high-profile events on the PGA Tour will have significantly more prize money available to players starting next season, including the Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and the Memorial Tournament. Those events will go from a total purse of $12 million to $20 million. The Sentry Tournament of Champions will go from $8.2 million to $15 million, the Players Championship will have a purse of $25 million, and the FedEx St. Jude Invitational and BMW Championship will jump to $20 million.
“One of the things that we’ve heard over the last several months from our sponsors is, ‘Please tell us what we can do to help,'” Monahan said. “So the changes that we’re making, which will be roughly $45 million in incremental purse, is coming from a combination of sponsor contribution, you know, ways to continue to sell more within those events themselves, and our reserves.”
No free lunch on the PGA Tour
Ian Poulter talks with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan during a pro-am prior to the 2022 Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
The LIV Golf Series contracts players to compete in its events, then pays them more based on their performance and the performance of the team they play for that week. However, PGA Tour players earn their money based on how they finish at that week’s tournament.
Over the last few weeks, there have been murmurs that golfers who make it to the PGA Tour should be paid a set amount at the beginning of the season to pay for things like travel and coaching. Asked about that topic, Monahan did not say it was off the table, but did not say it was coming soon.
“The foundation of this tour, the meritocracy of playing on the PGA Tour, how hard it is to get out here, how hard it is to get at the highest level of the game, that is ultimately going to be the attribute,” Monahan said. “That is ultimately going to be the element that will continue to make this tour the greatest tour in the world.”
For players joining the LIV Series, there's no coming back
Brooks Koepka looks on during the second round of the 2022 U.S. Open in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)
On June 9, Monahan sent a letter to all PGA Tour members announcing that he had suspended the 17 members who played in the LIV Series event in London, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia. That made them ineligible to play in any PGA Tour-sanctioned events.
As he spoke, LIV Golf took to social media to announce that Brooks Koepka has joined the organization, confirming the speculation and reports that started circulating on Tuesday.
“I laid out on June 9 our position on the players that had signed up for that first event, virtually all of whom made a long-term commitment to play in that series,” Monahan said when asked if he foresaw a way for LIV Golf participants to return to the PGA Tour. “So one event has been played, more are to come, and I think our position there is very well-established as it relates to any players that are going to play in future events.”
Put bluntly, golfers who leave the PGA Tour and compete in LIV Series events don’t have a way back.