“Today is a culmination of a strengthened partnership between the Tour and the players, and amongst the players themselves. It’s unprecedented for our Tour and a testament to who these guys are and what they believe in.” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan
By now you have probably read about what transpired on Wednesday at East Lake when PGA Tour commish Jay Monahan (aka The Sheriff of Nottingham) officially announced sweeping changes that will shape a new path for the PGA Tour.
Monahan introduced a plethora of enhancements, payouts and a schedule that will have the world’s top players on display in no less than 12 events (not counting major championships).
Contrary to the defectors who bolted for the LIV circus claiming they wanted to play less, the world’s best want to play more. That was rubber-stamped in the (formerly) top secret Tiger Woods gathering last week in Wilmington.
There is a lot to digest with what will become a new dynamic for the PGA Tour but the changes benefit everyone from the stars to the strugglers. Monahan also emphasized that the top PGA Tour players (perhaps with the exception of Cam Smith) have gotten behind these Tour changes.
“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.” So said The Commish.
So for those who left for LIV and claimed no one listens to the players, well, that argument has disappeared faster than Phil Mickelson’s ability to score.
After rumors began leaking following Tiger’s not-so-top-secret summit, well, there’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on and this didn’t happen overnight.
One thing that was rumored but turned out false was the notion that the Tour might turn away from it’s 501-(c)-6 (not-for-profit) status. “The 501(c)6 status and the integrity of that and all it does for us, that’s always going to be a central fabric to who we are as an organization,” Monahan reiterated. “It will always be that way.”
Now the changes that are coming are extensive enough that they’ve been in the works for most of this year.
What wasn’t leaked out and what appeared on Wednesday is the Tour’s version of welfare for the lower class.
Enter Ye Olde: Earnings Assurance Program.
All those outliers who lost their Tour cards (players in the 126-150 category) and guys who simply don’t play that well most of the time, well, they’ll receive $5,000 for travel and expenses when they miss a cut. Those dollars won’t be paid out of tournament purses. The welfare program also applies to the new guys who graduate from the Korn Ferry Tour. On top of that is a guaranteed minimum earnings scale of $500,000.
So yes golf followers and fans, the PGA Tour has evolved, it has pushed back against the LIV circus with changes that have been, overall, well received by the players.
There were elevated prize money offerings already announced at events like The Genesis, The Memorial and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. What came out of Tiger’s meeting was a commitment from the top players to compete in at least 20 events per year — 16 Tour events to go with the four majors.
Some of the other “elevated” events will include the Match Play, the three FedEx playoff events, The Players (of course), the Tournament of Champions (which will add the 30 FedEx final guys) and another four events to be announced in that “elevated” category.
There will be more to come but the one takeaway from this is that it blows the bejeebers out of that gripe by the likes of Pat Perez who claimed the Tour turns a deaf ear to the players.
Now the odds are pretty good that there will still be some guys longing for that big fat wad of Saudi blood-money, who are supposed to announce after the Tour Championship.
Cam Smith is proported to be the most high-profile defector.
But Rory McIlroy did have a conversation with The Brisbane Mullet following his win in Memphis.
We’ll leave you with what Rory told Cam:
“I had a conversation with Cameron Smith two days after the Open. Firstly I wanted to congratulate him, but also, guys that are thinking one way or another, honestly I don’t care if they leave or not, it’s not gonna make a difference to me, but I would at least like people to make a decision that is completely informed and basically know this is what’s coming down the pipeline, this is what you may be leaving behind.
“I just don’t want people making decisions, hearing information from one side and not from another. That’s sort of been my whole thing this entire time – I’ve always said this, guys can do whatever they want, guys can make a decision that they feel is best for themselves and for their families, but I just love guys to make decisions on all of the facts, and sometimes I don’t feel some guys made those decisions based on having all the facts in front of them.”