The PGA Tour’s 2023 season was drastically changed after the players-only meeting in Delaware ahead of the BMW Championship. Those changes led to the Tour’s new series of designated events for the 2023 season, and those designated events will see some new tweaks in 2024.
The PGA Tour board approved the changes on Tuesday night, and details of the changes were first reported on Wednesday morning.
An official announcement from the PGA Tour came later in the day, and was the talk of the town at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Unlike the full-field designated events in 2023, there will be eight designated events in 2024 that will have a limited field of 70-78 golfers and no cut. These changes will apply to all designated events except for the four majors, The Players Championship, and the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Commissioner Monahan met with players today and shared plans for a new schedule format.
“The schedule will distribute Designated events and Full-Field events … creating a strong cadence for players and fans alike.”
More details below ⬇️
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 1, 2023
The Tour’s release about the changes outlined how the designated event fields will be made up:
- The Top 50 players from the prior year FedExCup standings through the FedExCup Playoffs;
- The Top 10 players, not otherwise eligible, from the current year FedExCup standings (using the previous year’s FedExCup standings through the conclusion of the fall events for any early season events);
- Top 5 players, not otherwise eligible, earning the most FedExCup points through each “collection” of standard events (i.e. events between each Designated event);
- Current year tournament winners, not otherwise eligible, of full FedExCup point events prior to the Designated event;
- PGA TOUR Members among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking;
- Four sponsor exemptions restricted to PGA TOUR members.
The Tour’s most outspoken leader during its battle with the breakaway LIV Golf Series has been Rory McIlroy, and the world no. 3 spoke out in support of the new system on Wednesday.
“I think it guarantees the top players there for four days,” said McIlroy. “I’m certainly not one to reward mediocrity. This is the most aspirational tour to play in the world, and we have to keep it that way, and it has to be the toughest challenge for the best players in the world.”
Good explanation here.
I really, really love that there’s a “local qualifier leads the U.S. Open” aspect to this structure. It’s really good and fairly straightforward and clear how you get into the big boy tournaments. pic.twitter.com/B5gGUxI1jV
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) March 1, 2023
Max Homa also spoke out in support of the new changes, bringing a unique perspective to the conversation. Homa is currently playing the best golf of his career, sitting at a career-best no. 8 in the OWGR. In 2016 and 2017, Homa missed 15 of 17 cuts on the PGA Tour and lost his card. There are concerns that the limited fields would make it difficult for lesser known PGA Tour players to gain access to the designated events, but Homa didn’t see it that way.
“I think it’s easy to frame these changes as a way to put more money in the top players’ pockets, but it has been made to make it easier and more fun for the fans,” Homa said. “The non-designated events are the same purses with, I mean, on paper, weaker fields. You can play your way in to the designated events, and go from playing an event for the exact same amount of money to playing it for significantly more amount of money.”
Here’s Max Homa on the Tour’s changes and reduction to the field size of designated events. pic.twitter.com/jPXEtdojtt
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) March 1, 2023
Homa was referring to players falling into the third and fourth bullet points above about who qualifies for the designated events. The goal is to put a schedule in place that would see three non-designated events followed by two designated events. If a player were to win a non-designated event or have a good stretch of form during them, they could then qualify for the designated events by virtue of their win or FedEx Cup ranking.
While the PGA Tour and its members were quick to defend the changes, some others were quick to take to Twitter and criticize them.
I’ve spent the last year reading how good full fields and cuts are! 👀
— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) March 1, 2023
Westwood wasn’t alone in his criticisms, as fellow Majesticks co-captain Ian Poulter was quick to retweet his countryman’s thoughts, and the official LIV account called out the PGA Tour for imitating the breakaway golf series.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Congratulations PGA Tour. Welcome to the future.#LIVGolf
— LIV Golf (@livgolf_league) March 1, 2023
Nathan Hubbard – brother of world no. 167 Mark Hubbard – posted a Twitter thread defending the PGA Tour’s changes and describing how the Tour had differentiated itself from LIV. As someone who has intimate knowledge of a “rank and file” PGA Tour player (his brother is currently 83rd in the FedEx Cup standings), Hubbard’s insights were widely shared.
1) Some long and loose ⛳️ thoughts on the big @PGATOUR news today from someone *insanely highly invested* in a family member who has been both inside and outside the Top 50 line and will be fighting every week for position:
— Nathan Hubbard (@NathanCHubbard) March 2, 2023
While 2023 has been seen as a bit of bridge year between the old PGA Tour and its new future, the announced changes give some additional clarity to what that future looks like. The designated events for 2024 have not been announced yet, but the path to get into them has been laid out.