The PGA Tour has largely looked the same for a while now. Season swing bleeds into the holidays. The holidays lead into the West Coast swing which turns into the Florida swing, all of which act as the appetizer to the major championships. The dog days of summer turn into the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and then the cycle repeats itself.
With plans unveiled for a, the top players now know with certainty they will be taken care of if they continue to produce quality results. This tiered system of the designated events (which we will get into) and regular events has shed the monotony and provided context all while putting the stars of the game in an even better position both financially and competitively.
This drastic shift in the schedule may have happened down the line, but the emergence of LIV Golf most definitely sped up the process — a reality Rory McIlroy spoke to ahead of the 2023 Players Championship.
“I’m not going to sit here and lie; I think the emergence of LIV, or the emergence of a competitor to the PGA Tour, has benefited everyone that plays elite professional golf,” McIlroy told the media Tuesday ahead of the Players Championship. “I think when you’ve been the biggest golf league in the biggest market in the world for the last 60 years, there’s not a lot of incentive to innovate.
“This has caused a ton of innovation at the PGA Tour, and what was quite, I would say, an antiquated system is being revamped to try to mirror where we’re at in the world in the 21st century with the media landscape and just every — you know, the PGA Tour isn’t just competing with LIV Golf or other sports. It’s competing with Instagram and TikTok and everything else that’s trying to take eyeballs away from the PGA Tour as a product. So, yeah, you know, LIV coming along, it’s definitely had a massive impact on the game, but I think everyone who’s a professional golfer is going to benefit from it going forward.”
The innovation McIlroy is alluding to is the revamped nature of the designated events. In total, there will be 16 of those tournaments in 2024 — four major championships, the Players Championship, three FedEx Cup Playoff events and eight additional. On the surface, it doesn’t appear all that different from 2023, but the substance will be significantly denser.
Outside the majors, Players Championship and FedEx Cup Playoffs, these events will feature fields of 70-80 players, no cuts and guaranteed astronomical paydays. These players will largely consist of the top 50 in the FedEx Cup points standings, the top 30 in the Official World Golf Rankings, the top 10 from the fall swing and any winners from the current season.
Simply put: If you play good golf, you will be rewarded.
The cadence for the designated events versus regular events is expected to be two designated followed by three regular and so forth. This will allow those players who are not yet in the designated events to vie for spots in those fields as the top three FedEx Cup points getters from this three-week stretch not otherwise qualified will gain entry into the next batch of designated events.
And while the focus will be on the magnitude of the designated events and those who play them, an unintended consequence may actually be more competitive fields for the regular events.
“It’s trying to create the best schedule that guarantees that the top players play in the big events,” said McIlroy. “But also that it can sort of guarantee the participation in a handful of the full-field events as well. So I think there’s a pretty good balance to it, and I can certainly — if you’ve got those 16, 16 events from January to August isn’t a ton, right. You’re going to play more than that to feel sharp and ready to go at the biggest events.”