The PGA Tour season ends on Aug. 27. The Ryder Cup starts a month later. And then the top 50 players in the FedEx Cup will not have to play again until the start of 2024 unless they want to add to their trophy case or bank account.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan doesn’t see many top players staying home.
“I don’t think it’s realistic a player is going to the finish the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup and not play golf until January,” Monahan said last week at the Wells Fargo Championship.
The idea of a real offseason sounds good on paper. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were among those who lobbied for a shorter regular season. Woods in 2005 was lobbying for a condensed schedule that would bring the best players together more often.
The FedEx Cup arrived in 2007 and Woods was true to his word. He didn’t play for 10 weeks, returning at his Target World Challenge in December. He won, prompting Colin Montgomerie to say, “If he took a bloody year off, it would help — never mind 10 weeks.”
Mickelson had a stretch of playing post-Tour Championship in Singapore, China and the California event his management company ran. All were tied with corporate and business deals. Woods wound up going to Australia and Asia until back problems slowed him.
Now the PGA Tour will get a sense of how this generation of stars will react.
FedEx Cup points continue during the seven-tournament fall schedule, though the top 50 are locked in for all the $20 million events. The fall is for players to keep full status by finishing in the top 125 or to improve their position to qualify for some of the big events.
So why play? The way Monahan sees it, that’s just what they do.
“I still think players want to say sharp. They’re going to be competing against players in the top 70. I think you’ll see the same, if not more players playing at that time of the year,” he said. “Listen, winning is always going to have an incredible consequence on your career.”
If that’s the case, still to be determined is where the top players go. It was Ernie Els who said in 2007 the latter part of the year is when “you’ve got the wheelbarrow out. You want to cash in a little bit.”
It’s also worth noting the case of LIV Golf. Some top players, such as Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, went three months without competing after the inaugural season ended. Time off did wonders for Koepka’s health, and he had a runner-up finish at the Masters.
Johnson hasn’t contended anywhere since returning and is No. 20 in the LIV Golf standings.