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PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has announced wholesale changes to combat the ongoing and future threat posed by the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.
Speaking ahead of the FedEx Cup Playoffs finale at East Lake, Monahan highlighted a number of key changes which are designed to "bring the game's top players together more often."
Monahan announced the introduction of four elevated events for the 2023 season, taking the total to 12. These events will carry a minimum purse of $20m each, approximately a $46m addition to the total purse for 2022/23.
The elevated events, which will be announced in due course, will join the FedEx St Jude Championship, BMW Championship, Tour Championship/FedEx Cup, The Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Memorial Tournament, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship and the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
The Commissioner proudly announced that PGA Tour "top players" have committed to compete in at least 20 PGA Tour events per year. With 12 of the tournaments now classed as "elevated events" it leaves room for the four Major championships, the flagship Players Championship and additional FedEx Cup Playoff events (assuming the player qualifies). As per the announcement in June, the 2023 Players Championship will carry a total purse of $25m.
“Our top players are firmly behind the Tour, helping us deliver an unmatched product to our fans, who will be all but guaranteed to see the best players competing against each other in 20 events or more throughout the season,” Monahan said.
For the 2022/23 season, a "top player" will be defined as one that finishes in the top-20 of the current Player Impact Program and players who finish in the top-20 of the revised criteria; which was also part of his announcement.
Effective this year, the Player Impact Program will increase to $100m, double the initial offering, and will be awarded to the 20 players that "resonate the most with fans and the media." The PIP criteria will be adjusted to replace the Q-Score and social media metrics with an "expanded awareness criteria to capture the awareness from casual and core" fans. The 2023 PIP criteria will give focus to internet searches, general awareness, golf fan awareness, media mentions and broadcast exposure.
Monahan also introduced the Earnings Assurance Program (EAP), which replaces the previously-announced "Play-15." The EAP is designed to ensure all Korn Ferry Tour graduates and above in the PGA Tour's priority ranking, who compete in a minimum of 15 events, earn no less than $500,000 per year.
For any non-exempt member (the 126-150 category) the PGA Tour will subsidise travel and tournament-related expenses and award $5,000 for every missed cut in what it described as a new Travel Stipend Program.
The Commissioner also revealed that, effective immediately, players who qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship will also gain entry to the Sentry Tournament of Championships. The Hawaiian based event winner will also receive 550 FedEx Cup points - which is in line with other player-hosted invitationals.
Monahan added that players will earn a lifetime membership immediately upon reaching 20 PGA Tour wins, eliminating the requirement for 15 years of membership. As a result, Rory McIlroy now holds lifetime membership with the Tour.
"Today is a culmination of a strengthened partnership between the Tour and the players, and amongst the players themselves," Commissioner Monahan said. "It’s unprecedented for our Tour and a testament to who these guys are and what they believe in."
PGA Tour Announcement - Summary of Changes
- Introduction of four elevated events (making the season total 12)
- Top Players commit to a 20 event PGA Tour schedule per year
- Expansion of the Player Impact Program
- Launch of Earnings Assurance Programme
- Launch of Travel Stipend Program for non-exempt members
- Change to Sentry Tournament of Champions qualifying criteria
- Lifetime Membership awarded after 20 wins (removing membership length criteria)
James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.
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