Aug 25, 2022 - Sports

The PGA Tour is ready for battle with LIV

Illustration of two golf clubs crossed in front of a large fire

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

PGA Tour leaders delivered a strong message to LIV Golf ahead of the Tour Championship, which teed off Thursday: we're not backing down.

State of play: On the heels of last week's players-only meeting led by Tiger Woods, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on Wednesday announced some major changes coming to the Tour as part of a broader strategy to avoid losing more golfers to LIV.

  • Beginning next season, the Tour's top-20 players as determined by the year-old Player Impact Program have committed to playing together in at least 20 events, including 13 "elevated" events with purses between $15 million and $20 million.
  • The Player Impact Program itself, which rewards the players who drive the most engagement, is also changing: It will award $100 million to the top 20 players instead of $40 million to the top 10.
  • One day earlier, the Tour announced an expanded field and increased purse for its annual season-opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

Plus: Woods and Rory McIlroy, another of the Tour's staunchest defenders, announced a new virtual golf league launching in 2024 in partnership with the PGA Tour. Its intro video is unmistakably firing shots at LIV.

Why it matters: The PGA Tour, and those who wish to see it remain atop the world of professional golf, are not going quietly into that good night.

What they're saying: McIlroy explained the importance behind these changes:

"When I tune into a [Bucs] game, I expect to see Tom Brady. ... When I tune into a Formula 1 race, I expect to see Lewis Hamilton. Sometimes what's happened on the PGA Tour is we all act independently."
"We've all made a commitment to get together more often to make the product more compelling."
east lake golf club
East Lake looking pretty nice ahead of the Tour Championship. Photo: Ben Jared/PGA Tour via Getty Images

Between the lines: One place that certainly won't be short on top players competing together is Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club, hosting the Tour Championship for the 19th straight year.

  • Field and payouts: 29 golfers — down from 30 after Will Zalatoris withdrew with a back injury — are competing for an $18 million grand prize. The entire top 10 earns at least $1 million, and even last place walks away with $500,000.
  • Format: There are no cuts, but players begin with different scores based on their FedEx Cup standing. No. 1 Scottie Scheffler starts at -10, No. 2 Patrick Cantlay at -8, all the way down to the final five golfers teeing off at even par.
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