The PGA Tour's bid to keep its players from defecting is starting to get messy – and expensive. George Cooper weighs in following the significant developments
Barely 48 hours on from Matt Fitzpatrick’s stunning victory at the US Open, the golf world had already returned to the normalised hysterics of PGA Tour vs LIV Golf.
Another chaotic day surrounding this seemingly never-ending battle began with the not-so surprising news that Brooks Koepka has become LIV’s latest acquisition. Koepka was shortly followed by Abraham Ancer, as Greg Norman added two more significant sharks to his growing list of high-profile names joining the breakaway league.
Of course, this triggered several responses as to who would be next, and what would the PGA Tour do in response? Well, it hadn’t even hit 2pm on another turbulent Tuesday and we already had some answers. Amid reports he was next to make the controversial switch, a somewhat bewildered Collin Morikawa was forced to chime in, shutting down the rumours with an epic tweet.
Then came The Open champion’s boss, as PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan held a secret meeting with his players ahead of the Travelers Championship, before it was unveiled that plans have been set to revamp the Tour’s current schedule.
No doubt attempting to overhaul the threat of LIV Golf, it was announced that the PGA Tour will be incentivising its circuit by upping the purse at eight of its flagship events, increasing each one by at least $15 million.
On top of that, Monahan confirmed the creation of a lucrative new international series, which includes three events, each with not cut, made up of the top 50 finishers in the FedEx Cup standings.
“These increases will be funded by sponsor support and supplemented in the short term by the operating reserve.” Monahan explained.
Imitation the sincerest form of flattery? It appears the PGA Tour is taking note of LIV Golf after all, as the staging of a new exhibition series alongside hefty purse increases is not only a direct response to the breakaway series, but it in so many ways just mimics it completely.
International events? Limited field? No cut? $160 million up for grabs? Sounds vaguely familiar…
It’s certainly a bold if short-sighted move, with many LIV defectors already citing the appeal of less golf as a reason behind their controversial switch – no matter how much it fails to cloud the elephant in the room as to what the main reason is.
Despite the added prize money incentive, an overload of events is exactly what the PGA Tour doesn’t need. As it stands, the bulk of the PGA Tour season takes place between January and August, with the FedEx Cup Playoffs kicking off shortly after. The proposed changes also sees a return to an entire calendar year schedule, giving the top 50 players little respite in their quest at the Tour Championship.
Overall, it would seem the new events are less about prestige and accolades – what currently sets the PGA Tour apart from his rival’s series – and more about financial incentive as a way to keep hold of its fence-sitting players.
Only time will tell if the revamping can prove a factor in motivating players to stick around, rather than going after the Saudi dollar.