PGA Tour star Rory McIlroy has defended proposed changes to next season’s schedule that will see reduced fields and no cut at some of the most high profile events in a move designed to combat the challenge of rival LIV Golf.
Commissioner Jay Monahan issued a memo to all PGA Tour members on Wednesday detailing changes that will see reduced fields of 70-78 players at some of the ‘designated’ events plus the removal of the 36-hole cut.
The ‘designated’ events already benefit from significantly greater prize money and these latest changes are the PGA Tour’s latest attempt to counter LIV Golf that has lured away many top players with limited field, no-cut events and substantial financial rewards.
McIlroy backs new no-cut PGA events amid LIV mockery
24 MINUTES AGO
News of the development has since been mocked by LIV Golf who tweeted: “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Congratulations PGA Tour. Welcome to the future.”
Ahead of the latest ‘designated’ PGA Tour event of the season, the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida, McIlroy insists the latest changes are as radical as some may think.
“Well we’ve always had no-cut events on this Tour,” he told reporters. “If you think of the four WGC’s [World Golf Championships], you’ve got the three playoffs events, you’ve got the CJ Cup, the Zozo. So there’s precedent there for no-cut events.
“The only reason no-cut events are a big deal is because LIV has come along. So there is precedent for no-cut events. There’s been no-cut events since I’ve been a member of the Tour and way beyond that as well. So, yeah, is there maybe going to be a few more of them? Maybe. That’s still TBD by the way. That’s not been decided yet. But if we do go down that path there’s precedent there to argue for no-cut events.
“It keeps the stars there for four days. You ask Mastercard or whoever it is to pay 20 million dollars for a golf event, they want to see the stars at the weekend. They want a guarantee that the stars are there. So if that’s what needs to happen, then that’s what happens.”
Exact details as to which events will witness a change in format are as yet unknown but fans can expect some events to remain unchanged.
“Obviously the majors and The Players Championship are going to remain cut events. That’s not going to change and then it’s what we do with the rest of the events, right,” said McIlroy.
“You look at this event [Arnold Palmer Invitational], you look at the Memorial, you look at Tiger’s event in L.A [Genesis Invitational]. They have got a ton of history behind them. So is there an argument to say that because of that historical context we try to keep a cut in those events…but, again, I will say there’s precedent for no-cut events on this Tour.”
McIlroy also hinted that Tour officials are determined to ensure their product remains attractive to broadcasters with likely rights fees set to fuel these proposed changes for years to come.
“I think everyone knows that the majority of the money that comes into the Tour is from the media rights deal that the Tour negotiated back in 2020,” explained the Northern Irishman. “The next negotiations coming up aren’t that far away. We’re into 2024 next year. By 2028 there will be some negotiations starting again.
“So I feel like what we’re doing puts us in a way better position for the next media rights cycle coming up at the end of the 2020s. So that, again, whoever is bidding on them — and obviously the media landscape is changing drastically at the minute. So whether that’s NBC, CBS, whoever, or whether it’s Apple TV or YouTube or Amazon or whoever it is, that we’re in the best possible position to get a better media rights deal so that the prize money goes up again. So that’s where the majority of the money comes from.”
McIlroy has been a key figure in discussions about the schedule as a member of the Player Advisory Council and remains adamant that all players benefit – not just the game’s biggest names.
“I love it,” he insisted. “Obviously I’ve been a part of it and been in a ton of discussions. I think it makes the Tour more competitive…I’m all about rewarding good play. I’m certainly not about — I want to give everyone a fair shake at this. Which I think this structure has done.
“There’s ways to play into it. It’s trying to get the top guys versus the hot guys, right? 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 the 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.
“So, for example, someone like a Chris Kirk last week that wins Honda, he’s set. Winning is really important on this TOUR and good play and rewarding that.
“At the end of the day, I think with all these designated events and this event schedule, at the end of the day we’re selling a product to people. The more clarity they have on that product and knowing what they’re buying is really important. It’s really important for the Tour. I think this solves that.”
Arnold Palmer Invitational
Molinari recalls ‘monster’ putt to win Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2019
A DAY AGO
Francesco Molinari profile – ‘A man for magical moments’
A DAY AGO