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PGA Tour Announces Sweeping Changes in Response to LIV Golf

Among the changes, PGA Tour will boost prize money in several events, scrap the wrap-around season and reduce fields for the FedEx Playoffs, allowing top players to take time off in the fall.
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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced a series of changes and enhancements to the schedule Wednesday that will see a return to a calendar-year season as well as significant purse increases, some of which are a direct result of the threat from the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Speaking at the Travelers Championship, Monahan highlighted what he shared with players in a memo earlier: next year’s FedEx Cup playoffs field will shrink to 70 players, top-125 players can earn their exempt status through a series of six fall events after the Tour Championship, and the debut of a global series of three events that will be for the top 50 players in the FedEx Cup standings.

“We were planning on raising purses to these events in the future,’’ Monahan said. “The move that we’re making at the start of 2023 is no question so that we make sure our top events are maximized. This is an acceleration of that. We are responding to the current environment that we are in.’’

That environment saw the LIV Golf series announce minutes into Monahan’s news conference that Brooks Koepka had officially joined the circuit and will compete in the LIV’s second event next week outside of Portland while announcing 45 of the 48 players in the field.

Koepka joined the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed in accepting lucrative guaranteed deals to play an eight-event series this year that is expected to increase to 10 in 2023, with the possibility of a full league launching next year.

Monahan reiterated his stance from two weeks ago in which any player who signs on to play in LIV events will be suspended from the PGA Tour indefinitely.

"We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi Golf League is not that," he said. "It's an irrational threat; one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game."

Starting next year, eight PGA Tour events will receive significant purse increases: the Sentry Tournament of Champions will increase to $15 million, while the Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Memorial Tournament and playoff events FedEx St. Jude Invitational and BMW Championship will go to $20 million. The Players Championship will increase to $25 million.

It is expected that the Genesis, Arnold Palmer and Memorial will also reduce fields and be no-cut events, assuring guaranteed payouts for all who qualify. The Sentry is already a no-cut event, as is the Match Play. While the FedEx St. Jude and BMW will also be no cut tournaments.

In addition to the prize money boosts, the Tour will undergo a significant change when only the top 70 will qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. For the majority of the FedEx system which dates to 2007, the top 125 – those who retain exempt status – have qualified, with a cutdown by event.

Going forward, 70 will make the first field, followed by 50 at the BMW and then 30 for the Tour Championship – where a majority of the $75 million bonus pool is paid out. This year, the winner receives $18 million.

For those outside of the top 70, they are not assured of exempt status for the following season but can attempt to lock it in – or qualify for some of the invitational events – by playing in a series of six events that will continue the FedEx points tally. The top 125 exempt players will be determined in the fall.

Monahan had few specifics on the Global Series, only that they will feature the top 50 in the FedEx Cup. This is another opportunity for the top players to earn guaranteed income.

“We’ve gone from a wraparound season to a season that is primarily January to August,’’ Monahan said. “By creating two separate tracks for players who finish in the top 70 and outside of the top 70, to me there’s some alleviation there (for those who might want to take time off).

“I fundamentally believe that those tournaments in the fall, given the importance and significance that an opportunity to be on the PGA Tour means, qualifying for invitationals, retaining your card, I think that moment is going to be, while different than it's been in the past, I think it's going to be very exciting for fans and I think will create great energy in the fall.’’

By scrapping the wrap-around season, many of the top players will have an opportunity, if they choose, to take time off in the fall. That had been an issue for many as the seasons nearly overlap and creating a situation where if you take considerable time off, you would get behind in the points standings.

Now the FedEx Cup season is far more condensed, and the fall events become opportunities to enhance a spot or play if you choose.

“You’re trying to give playing opportunities and create prize funds for the lower half of the membership, but also by trying to accommodate what the upper half of the membership want as well by saying they want an off season, time away from FedExCup schedule. So it's a balance,’’ said Rory McIlroy, who is also a member of the PGA Tour’s policy board.

“Selfishly, for me, I would like an off-season. 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, whatever it is.’’