More changes are coming to the PGA Tour’s schedule in 2024.
The Tour announced several changes to eight designated events next season, which include smaller fields and no cuts.
“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,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a memo on Wednesday. “Together, this approach provides a schedule that is cohesive, compelling, consequential and with clarity for fans, players and sponsors alike.”
The new Designated Event Model includes 16 total events, though half of those are the four major championships, The Players Championship and the three events that make up the FedExCup Playoffs. Those events will maintain their usual 36-hole cuts and field sizes. The remaining eight designated events have not yet been determined, but they will feature no more than 80 golfers, have no cut and elevated purses and points.
It will be possible to play your way into a designated event, too. Golfers otherwise ineligible who sit inside the top 10 in the current FedExCup standings or win a tournament in that season will earn a spot in the designated events.
“There’s ways to play into it. It’s trying to get the top guys versus the hot guys, right?” Rory McIlroy said Wednesday ahead of this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational. “I think that creates a really compelling product, but a way that you don’t have to wait an entire year for your good play to then get an opportunity. That opportunity presents itself straight away.
“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.”
The full qualification system for designated events includes:
Top 50 players from last season’s FedExCup standings
Top 10 players from current FedExCup standings
Top 5 players, not currently eligible, earning most FedExCup points in tournaments between designated events
Current year tournament winners that are otherwise ineligible
Tour members in the Official World Golf Ranking top 30
Four sponsor exemptions
The designated event model is something that the Tour introduced this season, which came amid its battle with LIV Golf, which is a rival tour that launched last year with a key selling point being no cuts for any tournaments. LIV Golf responded on Twitter on Wednesday. The controversial Saudi Arabian-backed league doesn't have any cuts.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Congratulations PGA Tour. Welcome to the future.#LIVGolf
— LIV Golf (@livgolf_league) March 1, 2023
Lee Westwood was quick to criticize the Tour's changes, too, which benefit the PGA Tour but not the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour).
I’ve spent the last year reading how good full fields and cuts are! 👀
— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) March 1, 2023
So.. Do away with the WGC’s. Load the OWGR in your favour. Create 10 limited field events for just PGA tour members(like WGC’s). Add to that 4 majors,Players,FedEx cup. That’s a full schedule for a top player. That’s growing the game😉. What Strategic Alliance?
— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) March 1, 2023
The "Strategic Alliance" is in reference to the DP World Tour, which the Tour reached a partnership with last year in the wake of LIV's challenge.
This year, the PGA Tour has 17 total designated events, including the four majors and the FedExCup Playoffs. Outside of an elevated purse and an extra 50 FedExCup points, however, the events are largely the same.
They have drawn much stronger fields than in recent years, however, which has made for very entertaining golf early in the season. Jon Rahm, the current top-ranked golfer in the world, has won two of the three designated events held so far this season. Scottie Scheffler won the other, which briefly put him back at No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings before Rahm overtook him.
Those two and McIlroy are in the field this week at Bay Hill Club for the Arnold Palmer — the fourth designated event of the season — which should create another battle for the top spot.
The designated events for 2024 have not yet been finalized, but the goal is to spread them out somewhat evenly throughout the year. The full schedule, which is changing back to a calendar-year schedule, will be revealed “at a later date.”
“I think it's exciting because you're going to have the top guys in the world playing against each other more often,” Scheffler said Wednesday. “You're going to be able to guarantee the sponsors that those guys are going to be there four days.
“If you're coming out to an event to watch on Saturday and Sunday and, you know, if I'm imagining myself as a kid I would like to get out there early. Let's say I'm having a bad week, some kid can come out and watch me play early in the day and you can guarantee that Rory McIlroy's going to be there on Sunday, Jon Rahm's going to be there on Sunday. I think that's a lot of value added to TV and for sponsors.”