Faced with money, more money. The American golf circuit PGA Tour countered this Wednesday with the only weapon that seemed to be effective: the dollar, in the face of the continuous flight of its ranks towards the Saudi millionaires’ league. Commissioner Jay Monahan has announced eight tournaments will significantly increase the economic prizes they will be handing out in 2023, in addition to changing the calendar and creating three new dates for a small group of golfers with a hefty additional reward .
Players, a tournament ranked as the fifth largest, will increase the prizes it awards from 20 to 25 million (the same sum that every tournament in the Saudi league awards now; four million for the winner); the Sentry Tournament of Champions almost doubles the amount, from 8.2 to 15 million; from 12 to 20 the Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, WGC Dell Technologies Match Play and Memorial Tournament will happen; and from 15 to 20 the BMW Championship and the FedEx St. Jude Championship. This high, according to Monahan, will be possible thanks to circuit funds and an increase in contribution from sponsors.
Monahan also announced a return to a full calendar year in 2024 for its new system of progressive reductions in participants endgames: The top 70 play in the first date, the FedEx St. Jude Championship. From there, the top 50 advance to the BMW Championship; and 30 will compete for the final crown in the Tour championship. The 70 qualified for the first game start are released for the following season, including tournaments invitations. Those staying out of this cut can add points at the fall tournaments until the top 125 golfers who will compete at the next course are done.
To top it off, the PGA Tour celebrates three international tournaments, with no court (like the Saudi League, which is played over three days) and a limited number of golfers, taking place with the FedEx Top 50 Cup and the best fall dates and can be found at the end of the calendar. Another pinch for the wallet.
The PGA banned the Rebels from its competitions, who switched sides and signed up for the LIV Golf Series, a series of eight tournaments between June and October that will total $255 million, a mountain of gold well in excess of already lofty prizes in the American race track. But the measure did not shake the mighty Saudi league or other golfers who have been following the same path in recent days. Dustin Johnson, Sergio García and Phil Mickelson, who were present at the opening event in London, were recently joined by Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and this week World Nos. 19 and Abraham Ancer, respectively, Brooks Koepka and 20. Koepka, whose brother Chase was already enrolled in the Saudi league, has won four majors (two US Open and two PGA) and Ancer is the big Mexican star. All will be present at the second tournament of the league in Portland from June 30th to July 2nd, whose roster of 48 players was announced this Wednesday (there are the Spaniards Sergio García and Adrian Otaegui).
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman has confirmed he has $2,000 million to expand the series to 10 tournaments in 2023 and 14 in 2024. With the trickle of escaped players and the prospect of major stars leaving, the PGA Tour scratching its pocket just after the US Open, played last week, has already boosted the prize for the winner to 3.15 million, the largest Check in history of the greats (he was taken by Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick). Also this Wednesday, the British Open confirmed the qualification of the Saudi league rebels Main Brits, taking place in Saint Andrews (150th edition of the tournament) from July 14th to 17th, will have nothing to stop them from taking part.
“I’m not naive. If this is a war and dollars are the only weapon, the PGA Tour, an American institution, cannot compete with a monarchy that is spending millions to buy golf,” Monahan said before the start of the Travelers Championship on Wednesday. “There are Much remains to be done and details to be confirmed, but implementing significant changes to our schedule gives us the best opportunity not only to increase revenue for our players, but also to improve our product and create a platform for further growth in the future “On the PGA Tour, our members compete for an opportunity to put their name in the history books and, yes, significant economic benefits without having to grapple with any moral ambiguities,” added the Saudi sovereign wealth fund officer, who irrigates this Super League with Millions.”That’s the beauty of the PGA Tour. We have a global platform for members songs provided to compete with the best and gain fame.” Plus more money now.