The PGA Tour is punching back in its ongoing battle with LIV Golf, and it did so in a big way on Wednesday.
Beginning next year, players will see a significant jump in compensation, an increase to $100 million in the Tour’s Player Impact Program and a $500,000 guaranteed minimum against earnings for all exempt players. Notably, the Tour’s top players will also commit to at least 20 tournaments starting next season, 12 of which will have purses of $20 million or more. Eight of the events have already been announced.
It’s the most significant response to the controversial Saudi-backed LIV circuit, which launched in June, is bankrolled by the more-than $600 billion Public Investment Fund and has poached a number of big-name players, including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, with huge sums of guaranteed money.
“We’ve all made a commitment to get together more often to make the product more compelling,” Rory McIlroy said Wednesday at the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta. “I don’t have a crystal ball, but I think everyone in that room felt this was the best way to move forward.
“I think if you’re trying to sell a product to TV and to sponsors and to try to get as many eyeballs on professional golf as possible, you need to at least let people know what they’re tuning in for. When I tune into a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I expect to see Tom Brady throw a football. When I tune into a Formula 1 race, I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in a car. Sometimes what’s happened on the PGA Tour is we all act independently and we sort of have our own schedules, and that means that we never really get together all that often.”
Among the tournaments the Tour’s top players have committed to, if eligible, are the four majors, the Players Championship, three FedEx Cup playoff events, the Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Memorial, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and Sentry Tournament of Champions. Players will also commit to three additional tournaments of their choice.
That essentially means that when the Tour moves to a calendar schedule beginning in 2024, its top players will compete in 20 or more of the 35 tournaments between January and August. Thus, more of the game’s stars will play in the same events more often.
The dozen tournaments with increased purses includes the aforementioned group, plus four more tournaments that will be announced later this year.
The Tour’s Player Impact Program, meanwhile, will increase payouts from the top 10 to 20 players, with $15 million going to the winner. Tiger Woods finished atop the inaugural PIP ranking last year, earning $8 million.
While McIlroy and others lauded the moves, one person who was not impressed was LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman. On Instagram, Norman posted a picture of himself and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, captioning it, “Jay: ‘Hey can I copy your homework?’ Greg: ‘Sure, just make it look different so it doesn’t look to [sic] obvious.’”
Meanwhile, Monahan made it clear that players who bolt for LIV — a handful more are expected to do so as early as next week — will continue to face indefinite suspension from the Tour.
“They’ve joined the LIV Golf Series and they’ve made that commitment,” Monahan said. “For most of them, they’ve made multiyear commitments.
“As I’ve been clear throughout, every player has a choice, and I respect their choice, but they’ve made it. We’ve made ours. We’re going to continue to focus on the things that we control and get stronger and stronger. I think they understand that.”