Designated events will usher in new era of PGA TOUR competition
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Written by Staff @PGATOUR
The PGA TOUR is embarking on a new era, unveiling Wednesday a revamped schedule that Commissioner Jay Monahan said will “transform and set the future direction” for the TOUR.
The 2024 season will feature eight Designated events that will have fields of 70-78 players competing for elevated purses and FedExCup points. These events also will not have a 36-hole cut, guaranteeing that all of the top players will be competing in all four rounds. These eight Designated events will be in addition to the majors, THE PLAYERS and three FedExCup Playoffs events.
The PGA TOUR Policy Board approved the changes Tuesday night, and Commissioner Monahan announced the new approach in a letter to TOUR membership. More details will be unveiled at a later date, including which events would be considered “Designated” in 2024 and beyond.
“These smaller, Designated event fields will not only deliver substantial, can’t-miss tournaments to our fans at important intervals throughout the season, but they will also enhance the quality of Full-Field events,” Monahan said in the memo. “Together, this approach provides a schedule that is cohesive, compelling, consequential and with clarity for fans, players and sponsors alike.”
The majors, THE PLAYERS, and the FedExCup Playoffs events will be unaffected, retaining the same field sizes and 36-hole cut. Several of the Designated events, such as the three FedExCup Playoffs events and the Sentry Tournament of Champions already were without a cut, as well. The Sentry will now feature the previous year’s tournament winners as well as the top 50 in the previous year’s FedExCup.
“I love it,” said reigning FedExCup champ Rory McIlroy. “I think it makes the TOUR more competitive. … I'm all about rewarding good play.”
This year, which Commissioner Monahan has described as a bridge to a new future for the TOUR, has already provided a foretaste of what to expect in 2024. The 2023 schedule is highlighted by 12 Designated events – in addition to THE PLAYERS and majors – that feature elevated purses and participation from the top players on TOUR. These events have already produced memorable showdowns by some of the TOUR’s most popular players, with Scottie Scheffler holding off Jon Rahm to win the WM Phoenix Open to return to No. 1 in the world ranking. Two weeks later, Rahm beat Max Homa at The Genesis Invitational to become No. 1 in the world.
Eligibility for the Designated events in 2024 and beyond -- exclusive of THE PLAYERS and FedExCup Playoffs, where field size and eligibility remain unchanged -- will reward top performers, provide ample opportunity for players to gain entry, retain an emphasis on winning and be simple for fans to understand.
While there are still details to be determined based upon which events are Designated, to follow is the framework of the eligibility system:
• The Top 50 players from the prior year FedExCup standings through the FedExCup Playoffs;
• The Top 10 players, not otherwise eligible, from the current year FedExCup standings (using the previous year’s FedExCup standings through the conclusion of the fall events for any early season events);
• Top 5 players, not otherwise eligible, earning the most FedExCup points through each “collection” of standard events (i.e. events between each Designated event);
• Current year tournament winners, not otherwise eligible, of full FedExCup point events prior to the Designated event;
• PGA TOUR Members among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking;
• Four sponsor exemptions restricted to PGA TOUR members.
“I want to give everyone a fair shake at this, which I think this structure has done,” McIlroy said about the Designated events. “There's ways to play into it. It's trying to get the top guys versus the hot guys, right? I think that creates a really compelling product.
“You play well for two or three weeks, you're in a Designated event. You know then if you keep playing well you stay in them.”
Rory McIlroy on upcoming schedule changes on the PGA TOUR
McIlroy pointed to last week’s Honda Classic as an example of the opportunities that will be afforded by the Full-Field tournaments. Chris Kirk’s victory in a playoff over rookie Eric Cole is the type of performance that could vault players into the Designated events, where he would compete against the likes of McIlroy, Rahm and Scottie Scheffler.
“You got to earn your way still out here on TOUR,” Scheffler said. “There's plenty of avenues for guys to earn their way into those tournaments, whether it's this year or next year. … We're still going to reward good golf.”
Scottie Scheffler on upcoming schedule changes on the PGA TOUR
There will be no mandatory participation regulations for the Designated events. The increased purse and FedExCup points, strength of field and prestige of the events will incentivize top performers to participate.
The schedule is designed to allow top performers the flexibility to participate in both Designated and Full-Field events. Full-Field events will become more consequential as they allow new and upcoming stars to rise to the top and give the membership an ability to play their way into the Designated events. Top performers in the Full-Field events will have ample opportunity for play-in from season long performance and different intervals throughout the season.
"Over the last year, we have spent a massive amount of time exploring how to better position the PGA TOUR for continued growth,” Commissioner Monahan wrote. “How to innovate and deliver a better product. How to further showcase our top performers, while staying true to the meritocracy and legacy that define the TOUR. How to create a season of consequence that deepens and expands fan interest. How to make every tournament better and deliver more value to sponsors, media partners and host organizations – to the benefit of the entire membership.”
The eight affected Designated events for next year have not been finalized.
The Resource Allocation Plan for 2024 has also been adjusted. The Player Impact Program will be reduced to $50 million, paid to the top 10 players (from $100 million to the top 20). The remaining funds will be reallocated to the FedExCup Bonus Program and Comcast Business TOUR Top 10. Further details will be shared with the membership in the coming weeks.