ATLANTA – Changes to the PGA Tour schedule and minimum event requirements for players This was announced by Commissioner Jay Monahan on Wednesday Many golf stakeholders have been left cautiously optimistic, but scrambling to see how best to move forward.
Monahan admitted that things came together very quickly in the wake of the LIV Golf threat and A players-only meeting led by Tiger Woods in Wilmington, Delaware, last week That many details still need to be sorted out.
But it is already clear that some tournaments may struggle to attract the best players to their events, based on the high status of many tournaments combined with the requirements that the top players are committed to.
Two championships immediately come to mind: the Honda Classic and the Valspar.
Both Florida tournaments scheduled for next spring find themselves caught between several soaring events that will feature $20 million and an elite field.
“We’re in a tough spot, no doubt,” said Valspar Tournament Director Tracy West. “When they upgraded (Genesis Invitational and Arnold Palmer Invitational) earlier, we were already in a difficult situation. But now that they are asked to play it, they smoke sacred smoke. We are in a very difficult situation.”
Starting in January, there will be 34 weeks of tournaments on the PGA Tour, 20 of which are reserved for the top 20 players as determined by the Player Impact Program.
Except for names like Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, John Ram and Jordan Spieth to be among them.
He predicted that tournaments like the Honda Classic and the Valspar Championship would have a tough time bringing high-powered players to their tournaments, based on the logistics and timing.
Monahan has announced a bold new system for 2023, with the top 20 players as defined by the PIP to compete in at least 20 events, 17 of which will be one for all. It will be three more of their choice.
But the schedule puts Honda and Valspar in a difficult position.
The Genesis Invitational, February 16-19, kicks off a series of three elevated events in six weeks, along with the Players Championship – one of 17 events all top players are expected to play.
The Genesis Honda Classic follows the Arnold Palmer Invitational high event, Players Championship, Valspar, and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play high event. Then after the Texas Open Valero – also in a tough spot – is the Masters.
Go to follow
“There is a lot to sort out in the next several weeks,” said Andrew George, Honda Classic’s championship director. “All of this is happening at speeds that we haven’t seen happen. To assess the following year, it may actually look different than two or three years. The fact that the top 20 teams are going to play together is exciting golf. After what we lived through this summer, this is a win for us.”
George was pointing The big upheaval that LIV Golf has caused since its launch in June With the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and many more mavericks.
Each player has been suspended indefinitely by the PGA Tour or has resigned from their membership.
Others are expected to sign with LIV Golf before next season, and there is a sense that the PGA Tour needs to do something to hold back.
I’ve done so in the form of several $20 million tournaments spaced out over the course of the year while urging the best players to commit to all of them.
“The fact that we get two PGA Tour players in a room and get on the same page is a win,” said George. “Since Honda in February, the world of golf has been turned upside down. In the past six months, there has been a lot of uncertainty in the wake of COVID. Having them rally behind the Tour is a good thing.
“We already knew where to sit in terms of the schedule. We tried to view this as a community event. We’ve seen Jay and his team say everything and anything on the table. I don’t think there’s anything from their point of view that suggests they want to hurt Honda, Valspar or the other championships. This has been very encouraging for the past 48 hours.
Monahan said there are four elevated events yet to be determined, and in theory Valspar and Honda could be one of them, if not in 2023, then in the coming years. Scheduling issues should be resolved, because where the Honda and Valspar are located would likely mean a lot, respectively.
As it stands, the Genesis, Arnold Palmer, Players Championship and WGC-Match Play spans in six weeks makes it difficult to schedule. Even if a player wants to choose Honda or Valspar as one of his other three events, it’s a busy schedule.
“Just like every championship, we’re talking to our title (Sponsor Valspar) to see if they want it to be an elevated event,” West said. “Say they say ‘yes,’ well that makes it a little trick. I don’t know if they want four of us in a row. You’d think they’d want to spread out more. So do we say we want to go up and do we go to April (which the tournament did) in 2021)?
But we also want to think about it positively. First of all, these movements are good for the tour. It raises the bar for the challenge. There will be only 70 in the playoffs (FedEx Cup). These guys still have to play in the FedEx Cup. They will have to play an appropriate number of events.
“We can’t panic. We have to see how it turns out. And the top 20 have to play three more. You have to put on your best hiring hat.”
Honda and Valspar will not be alone. All tournaments that follow or precede elevated events will attempt to determine the best steps forward. Think events like the WM Phoenix Open, RBC Heritage, Charles Schwab Challenge, and John Deere Classic. Some of them had to deal with unfavorable dates in the calendar. Now they have an extra challenge.
Of course, there are more than 20 top players. Those not mentioned in the PIP will in many cases skip some of the most important events to play in the places where they feel most comfortable. All of that remains to be determined and to be seen how it develops.
“There is a lot of clarity to be gained for everyone,” George said. “The fact that it is moving in real time, they really need the next 45 to 60 days to figure out a few things. Now is the time to evaluate the opportunity and put all solutions on the table.”