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Friday, December 09, 2022

Dollar’s ‘arms race’ leans on the PGA Tour and loyalty

Cromwell, Conn. ( Associated Press) – Commissioner Jay Monahan says the PGA Tour cannot win an “arms race” against Saudi-funded Liv Golf, when the weapon is money. His response on Wednesday was to boost prize money across eight specific events and build on the loyalty and legacy among his players.

Monahan delivered another round of scathing criticism against Greg Norman and his rival league. LIV Golf has surpassed players to win nine Majors over the past five years, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.

The latest to sign was Koepka, whose deal with LIV Golf was announced just as Monahan began his first press conference in three months at the Travelers Championship.

“I’m not naive,” said Monahan. “If it is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, then the PGA Tour cannot compete. The PGA Tour, an American institution, cannot compete with a foreign monarchy that attempts to buy the game of golf. is spending billions of dollars.

“We welcome good, healthy competition. LIV Saudi Golf League is not that,” he said. “It is an irrational threat that has nothing to do with the return on investment or the actual development of the sport.”

However, this tour appears to be trying to continue. Monahan said the increase in prize money was in the works in her latest media rights deal she signed in 2020, noting that the threat of LIV Golf spurred some of those plans.

They announced a streamlined schedule from January to August starting in 2024 — with seven tournaments of $20 million or more and fewer spots available for its postseason. The top 125 qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Next year, only the top 70 will be eligible.

The drop would be for players who dropped out of the top 70 to secure cards for the following year, and to give them a chance to move into the top 50 – or try to stay there – for some elite $20 million. Tournament to secure a spot.

There are also plans for three international events in the fall for only the top 50 in FedEx Cup points from last season.

Monahan cited Masters champion Scotty Schaeffler, who earlier Wednesday was unusually outspoken in support of the PGA Tour. Scheffler didn’t win on the PGA Tour until February, and then went on to win four times in two months to reach world No. 1.

He has already set a PGA Tour record for earnings of the season for about $12.9 million.

“If you’re good enough, you’ll get to the top,” Monahan said. “And if you don’t continue to earn that top spot, someone else hungry and talented is right there to take your place. Again, it’s the unparalleled beauty that tour has and will always offer fans.”

“It’s great and worth fighting for.”

Koepka was among the LIV newcomers announced to the field in Oregon the following week, and he was as big a surprise as Johnson was for the inaugural London event.

Monahan was at Koepka’s wedding in the Turks and Caicos Islands on June 5. Koepka was part of the group from a Rolex outing a week ago in which he was joined by top players – Schaeffler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas – to discuss strong-worded support for the tour.

A week later, he was signed and headed to LIV Golf.

“It was definitely a surprise to me,” said Scheffler, who has the same manager as Koepka. “I was at an event with him last week and he certainly didn’t have that in mind. We were focused on building the PGA Tour and getting people who are here to be together and just chatting. And we’re figuring out how we can help benefit the Tour, so Brooks’ departure was definitely a surprise to us.

The tour will almost double the prize money for the winning-only Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua to $15 million. Invitational events in the Riviera, Bay Hill and Muirfield Village increased from $8 million to $20 million. Two FedEx Cup playoff events increased from $5 million to $20 million. And the Players Championship goes from $5 million to $25 million.

This is an increase of just over $50 million in prize money, or roughly what Johnson receives annually as a signing fee for the LIV golf series, and the $25 million in prize money he and the others each event before. compete for.

That’s the arms race Monahan and the PGA Tour are facing, though it still has the top 15 players in the world rankings on its side, a core group speaking more strongly.

Still, some may have a price.

Koepka apparently did, and McIlroy cited him as another player who went back on his word. Two years earlier, Koepka was second only to McIlroy in denouncing the concept of a 48-man league.

“Am I surprised? Yes, because of what he said earlier,” McIlroy said. “I guess that’s why I’m surprised by a lot of these people because they say one thing and then they do another. I don’t know if it’s for legal reasons or if they can’t… I don’t know.” But saying one thing and then doing another is a very duplicity on their part.”

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More Associated Press Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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