PGA Tour in the “arms race” to keep players – Herald Democrat

By Doug Ferguson Associated Press

Cromwell, Connecticut – Commissioner Jay Monahan says the PGA Tour can’t win an “arms race” against Saudi-funded LIV Golf when guns are the money. His response was to increase prize money in eight elite events and build on loyalty and legacy among his players.

Monahan directed another round of vitriol against Greg Norman and his rival league. LIV Golf has crippled players who have combined to win nine majors in the past five years, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson Deschamps.

“I’m not naive,” said Monahan. “If this is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can’t compete. The PGA Tour, an American institution, can’t compete with foreign ownership spending billions of dollars trying to buy golf.

“We welcome good, healthy competition. The Saudi Leaf Golf is not. It is an irrational threat, a threat that does not care about return on investment or the real growth of the game.”

However, the tour appears to be trying to keep up. Monahan said an increase in prize money is in the works from its latest media rights deal it signed in 2020, noting that the LIV Golf threat has accelerated some of those plans.

Announcing a simplified schedule – January-August starting in 2024 – with seven tournaments worth $20 million or more and fewer post-season locations available. The Top 125 qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Next year, only the top 70 will qualify.

The fall would be for players who finished the race outside of the top 70 to secure tickets for the following year, giving them a chance to move into the top 50 – or try to stay there – to secure spots in some of the elite $20 million tournaments.

Three international events are also scheduled in the fall for only the top 50 FedEx Cup points from the previous season.

Monahan cited Masters champion Scotty Scheffler, who has been unusually vocal in his support of the PGA Tour. Schaeffler didn’t win the PGA Tour until February, then won four times in two months to reach #1 in the world.

He has already set a PGA Tour record for season earnings of around $12.9 million.

“If you are good enough, you will rise to the top,” Monahan said. “And if you don’t continue to earn that number one spot, another hungry, talented person will be there to replace you. Once again, that is the unique beauty of the Tour and will always present to the fans.

“He’s very good and worth fighting for.”

Koepka was among the LIV newcomers announced for the field in Oregon next week, and was as big a surprise as Johnson at the opening London event.

Monahan was at Koepka’s wedding on June 5 in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Kupka was part of a group from a Rolex outing a week ago in which he joined top players – Schaeffler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas among them – in discussing the tour’s strong support.

A week later, he was signed and headed to LIV Golf.

“That was definitely a surprise to me,” said Scheffler, who is the same coach as Koepka. “I was at an event with him last week and that certainly wasn’t what he had in mind. We were focused on building the PGA Tour and getting the guys staying here together and kind of just having conversations and seeing how we can help capitalize on the tour. So seeing Brooks leave was A surprise for us for sure.”

The tour will nearly double the Sentry Tournament prize money for the winner-only Kapalua to $15 million. Advocacy events in Riviera, Bay Hill and Muirfield Village increased by $8 million to $20 million. Two FedEx Cup Qualifiers events increased by $5 million to $20 million. The Players Championship has increased from $5 million to $25 million.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: