PGA Tour confirms schedule and bag changes in bid to compete with LIV Golf

The PGA Tour has announced schedule changes and prize money increases to stem the flow of renowned players joining the rival LIV Golf International Series.

Brooks Koepka has become the ninth major champion to sign up for the controversial Saudi-backed league, rocking the PGA Tour on Wednesday.

The American joined Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Bryson DeChambeau in the breakaway competition.

Defecting players were suspended indefinitely from PGA Tour events, but were allowed to play in last week’s US Open and participate in next month’s 150th Open in St Andrews.

There were rumors that the PGA was considering a move to an annual calendar, along with increasing scholarships and creating new uncut international events featuring the Tour’s top 50 players.

Commissioner Jay Monahan confirmed these changes at a press conference ahead of the Travelers Championship, emphasizing the PGA’s need to innovate to remain golf’s premier competition.

“I want to talk about where the PGA Tour is going. We don’t expect to overcome this current challenge by relying solely on our legacy and track record,” he said.

“We have been on track for several years to strengthen and evolve our product for the benefit of our fans and players, these plans are obviously accelerated in light of the current environment.

“We have some exciting developments coming out of yesterday’s policy board meeting that will further secure our status as the most prominent golf tour in the world.

“This includes moving forward with our future product model for the 2022-23 season and beyond, a return to the annual calendar starting in 2024, with the FedEx Cup running from January to August, culminating in the FedEx Cup play-offs and following by the fall events.

“[The Tour will also add] revised field sizes for the 2023 FedEx Cup play-offs and beyond, [and] the creation of a series of up to three international events, to be played after the conclusion of the fall schedule, which will include the top 50 players from the FedEx Cup points list.

“Alongside these changes, the policy board also amended the resource allocation plan, to increase the size of grants at eight events during the 2022-23 season, with an average grant of $20 million.

“There is more work to be done and details to be confirmed, but implementing substantial changes to our schedule gives us the best opportunity to not only generate earnings for our players, but also improve our product and create a platform for continued growth in the future. “

Rory McIlroy, a vocal opponent of LIV Golf, had previously stated that he supported the changes, telling Sky Sports: “I think the FedExCup season goes into a calendar year, that would be a good idea.

“So it gives guys the opportunity to play if they want to play in the fall, or if they don’t want to play in the fall, they don’t have to, they’re not forced.

“You’re trying to provide game opportunities and create prize funds for the lower half of the association, but also trying to accommodate what the upper half of the association wants as well with off-season time off the FedExCup schedule. So it’s a balance.”

Monahan added that the PGA does not wish to compete financially with the rival tour, led by two-time champion Greg Norman, which he described as “unreasonable”.

“I’m not naive,” Monahan said. “If this is an arms race and if the only weapons are dollar bills, the PGA Tour cannot compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars trying to buy the game of golf.

“We welcome good healthy competition, the LIV series is not that. It’s an irrational threat that doesn’t care about return on investment or the game’s true growth.

“Currently, no organization owns or dominates the game of golf, instead, the various entities work together to address our own priorities, but with the best interests of the game at heart.

“When someone tries to buy the sport and dismantle institutions that are intrinsically invested in growth and only focus on a personal priority, that partnership evaporates.

“Instead, we end up with one person, one entity, using infinite amounts of money to direct employees towards their personal goals, which may or may not change tomorrow or the next day.

“I doubt that’s the vision any of us have for the game.”

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