PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has heralded the introduction of designated events, bigger prize funds and more ‘no-cut’ events declaring, “It’s a great time to be a PGA Tour fan and a PGA Tour player”.
Speaking ahead of the latest staging of the PGA Tour’s flagship event, The Players Championship, Monahan was in a bullish mood as he detailed the latest schedule changes that will ensure the best players go head-to-head more often.
Designated events with minimum purses of $20m were introduced this season in a bid to counter the riches offered by rival tour LIV Golf that has lured many of the game’s top names away from the PGA Tour.
The 2024 schedule will see further changes with the designated events being limited to 70-78 players and also stripped of a 36-hole cut.
“We are coming into The Players with a tremendous amount of momentum both on and off the course,” he told reporters in Ponte Vedra Beach.
“I’ve just come out of a player meeting, and it’s inspiring to see the continued level of commitment, communication, passion and investment they’re all making in this organization and the level of competition they are exhibiting while doing so. I’m going to say this: It’s a great time to be a PGA Tour fan and a PGA Tour player.”
Reflecting on a thrilling start to the year, he said, “Competitively we have seen a supercharged first two months of the year. It’s clear that the PGA Tour stars have been inspired by the opportunity to compete head-to-head more regularly on some of golf’s biggest stages.”
The exact schedule is set to be released in the summer but Monahan revealed it has been put together with both players and fans in mind.
“At the heart of the changes announced is our effort to present the best possible PGA Tour to our fans and provide maximum benefits for every PGA Tour member across the board,” he said.
“We’ve looked at all possible competitive models, and it was evident and perhaps obvious that whatever we do differently, we must showcase our top performers competing against one another more often…This is what fans want and this is what fans have been asking for.”
Some have accused the PGA Tour of following the lead of LIV Golf in terms of format and schedule but Monahan shot down the comparison.
“Do you think we really look the same?” he asked. “And, you know, the players that are competing in our events in this new format next year will have earned the right to compete in them,” he said.
“You know the PGA Tour has always had limited-field, no-cut 72-hole stroke play events. In fact, Jack Nicklaus won 17 times in that format. Arnold Palmer won 23. Tiger Woods won 26. To me, those wins, the format did not diminish those accomplishments as we sit here today. I think as we look out to 2024, 2025, 2026, the same will hold true,” he added.
Monahan admitted the schedule remains a work in progress as they continue to plan for a new era for the sport.
“There was and there still is a lot of discussion and debate on whether or not there should be no cuts,” he said. “But for us to be able to have our stars assured to play for four days is a really important element to this model going forward. We think that’s what fans want, particularly given the players have earned their right and their ability to play in those events.”
Monahan also pointed to the success of some of the most recent designated events that boasted strong fields and compelling narratives but stressed that full-field events remain a key part of their thinking.
“We know that designated events can resonate both with core and casual fans, evidenced by the metrics of the WM Phoenix Open and the Genesis Invitational last month,” he said, “but designated events can’t stand on their own.
“You need strong, compelling full-field events to provide consistency and keep the PGA Tour top of mind week-in and week-out with storylines and breakout stars.”
Monahan admitted there may be a misstep along the way as they look to build on the PGA Tour’s success to this point, but he vowed to ultimately deliver a great product for all.
“Will this model be perfect right out of the gate? Perhaps not,” he admitted, “but as we’ve done throughout our history and using the FedExCup as a prime example, we will listen, we will learn and we will adapt each year with the changing needs of our players, partners and fans.”
He added: “We’ll listen, we’ll learn and adapt, but we’re firm on what we’re doing in 2024.
“You listen to your fans, we do that through our fan council; we’ll continue to listen to our players, that manifests itself through our Player Advisory Council, more conversations we’re having with our players in the coming weeks at tournaments, more discussions that we’re going to have with our sponsors, our title sponsors, marketing partners and ultimately media partners.
“But we’ll learn, just like we’ve learned this year. We’ll learn along the way, and we’ll apply that learning where we think it’s going to be to the betterment of this organization and all of our members.”
Source : EuroSport