PGA Tour approves radical schedule changes, reducing fields in elevated events and ending cuts
The PGA Tour board on Tuesday night ratified a radical new approach for the 2024 schedule that will see reduced fields in the new designated events and the removal of the 36-hole cut.
Fields in designated events will be reduced to between 70 and 78 players with no halfway cut. The changes will not apply to all of the elevated events— the majors, the Players Championship and the FedEx Cup playoff tournaments will be unaffected.
Two sources familiar with the details confirmed the changes to Golfweek.
Designated events were launched this year in an effort to guarantee the presence of the game’s top stars and to ensure they are paid more, with minimum purses of $20 million in each event. Due to the haste with which the designated events came about — a direct response to the threat posed by LIV Golf — no changes were made to field sizes for 2023. That won’t apply when the Tour returns to a calendar-year schedule in 2024.
Reducing field sizes is sure to cause concern among rank-and-file members who will see it as the denial of playing opportunities. However, one top player who spoke on condition of anonymity says the plan will have opportunities for members to play their way into designated stops and will not create a closed ecosystem for elite stars.
“We want top players and hot players,” the source said.
Fields at designated events will be comprised of the top 50 players who qualify for the BMW Championship during the previous season’s FedEx Cup playoffs, plus the top 10 players not otherwise eligible on the current FedExCup points race. There will also be five places earned through performance in non-designated events.
For example, the goal is to have a cadence to the calendar that would see two designated events followed by three non-designated tournaments, then another two designated. The top five point-earners from the three non-designated stops would earn their way into the next designated events. Any player who wins on Tour would automatically be eligible for every designated event that season.
Other qualification criteria will include consideration of the Official World Golf Ranking, most likely with a focus on the top 30. That is intended to accommodate a top player who may be returning from injury and otherwise ineligible for designated events. Sponsor exemptions will also remain in use, though with more defined parameters on who is eligible to receive one. Such exemptions are a controversial feature of designated events, but that free pass also represents the most obvious way to ensure Tiger Woods can play any event he wishes to.
Tour executives ran multiple data simulations of how a season would play out to ensure sufficient churn in the system. Proposals from top players at their meeting in Delaware last summer called for smaller fields and no cuts, but their criteria would have seen 80% of players remain in the elevated events from season to season. The structure ratified by the board projects that only 60% of those eligible for designated events would remain so for the following season.
A PGA Tour spokesperson declined to confirm any details of the plan to Golfweek. A memo explaining the changes will be sent to Tour members later Wednesday.