PGA Tour May Want to Take a Mulligan on Its Schedule Change

The Tour may end up alienating a large number of its players, who next year might be more compelled to defect, says one pro

Golfer Eddie Pepperell tees off at a golf tournament with the Dubai skyline in front of him
Should the PGA Tour have just stayed the course with its schedule?
Andrew Redington via Getty

Last week in a pro-PGA “rant,” the world’s eighth-ranked golfer, Max Homa, essentially framed the Tour’s schedule changes for the 2024 season as a hole in one for the organization, its players and fans. But one of his peers sees the PGA’s revamped approach to event planning as more of a potential hard slice into the woods.

Starting next year, the PGA Tour schedule will feature what the organization calls a “Designated Event Model” in which eight events will only feature “70-78 players” and will not have a cut. “With the new change, fields will be comprised of the top 50 players from the previous year’s FedEx Cup Points List and the top 10, not otherwise eligible, from the current year’s list,” among other additions, as reported.

In a four-minute, uninterrupted monologue during a Wednesday press conference, Homa, who helped shape the future schedule, said he loves the changes and believes golf fans want to see the world’s top handful of players go shot-for-shot on Sundays, which the new format is theoretically going to set up on a more frequent basis. He also said the new schedule will benefit players across the ranking spectrum, with bigger purses throughout. 

Why the New PGA Tour Schedule Inspired This “Rant”
Max Homa may love the Tour’s new approach, which will pit top players against each other more often, but it has its vocal critics, too

Though neither Homa nor the PGA mentioned LIV Golf, whose name shall apparently not be uttered, it’s pretty obvious that the Tour made this maneuver in an attempt to beef up its product in the face of new competition. Twitter user @Zagbill78, who described himself as a Tour fan of more than 20 years, posted to the platform: “LIV forced their hand, they had to do something, this might not be the 100% solution but let’s enjoy the [golf] and find out!”

But Eddie Pepperell, a British golfer who’s currently ranked 240 in the world, tweeted a different tune on Saturday. Across an eight-tweet thread that began warmly with “Some weekend thoughts,” Pepperell said that he worries the new PGA Tour schedule will “embolden” fellow PGA players to defect. 

“Next year, effectively 98 players across both LIV and the PGAT are guaranteed to be playing for a LOT of money! And a lot more than everyone else,” Pepperell posted. “We know the 48 on LIV will be fixed (which is just one reason why it sucks) [but] There will be some very good [PGA] players with high profiles who won’t finish this season in the top 50 on the FedEx. So if they want to *ensure* they are playing for the top dollars, they will likely give LIV more consideration, IMO.”

Pepperell wondered if a player like Tyrrell Hatton, whose FedEx Cup standing sits at number 69, might be among the kinds of highly skilled players the PGA Tour could alienate with the new schedule. “If…Hatton finishes where he is currently ranked on FedEx, do you think he is now more or less likely to consider an offer from LIV? Given he won’t be in next years PGAT top 50.”

Pepperell even acknowledged the broad belief that LIV Golf doesn’t have much of a chance at survival in the first place. (Even economists who interview LIV CEO Greg Norman and listen to his most optimistic pitches for the rogue league don’t think it will last more than a few years in total.) He thinks the Tour had “the momentum and the opportunity to leave LIV for dead next year” by — pardon the pun — staying the course. “But by attempting to enrich the top guys even more, I think they’ve opened themselves up to the possibility that in 2024 they might well lose some high profile, very good golfers to LIV, who just didn’t have their best 2023,” he wrote.

“Just some thoughts,” Pepperell added. With preemptive pacification he closed the thread with: “Don’t shout at me, I know I’ve probably missed something. Happy weekend.”

Twelve hours later, after being shouted at because Hatton is ranked 24th in the world and will still qualify for the PGA’s big money events, Pepperell added to the thread that “Tyrell was a bad example,” and fixed a cry-laughing emoji at the end.

We’ll see if the PGA Tour ultimately ends up laughing or crying over its new schedule next year. 

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