Jan 5, 2023 - Sports

PGA Tour's "elevated" era begins with more prize money

2023 PGA Tour elevated events
Data: Golfweek, Axios Research; Table: Axios Visuals

The Sentry Tournament of Champions (TOC) begins Thursday at Maui's Kapalua Plantation Course, resuming the PGA Tour after seven weeks off and marking the beginning of a new era for the Tour.

State of play: The TOC is the first of 13 "elevated" events this season, which feature increased prize money and the Tour's best golfers and biggest names, as determined by the Player Impact Program (PIP).

The big picture: The PGA Tour is doing what it can to fend off LIV Golf as the lucrative breakaway tour enters year two. These events will see the best golfers on tour go head-to-head more often — for huge prizes.

  • The combined purse for this year's 13 elevated events is $315 million, up 47% from the $214.7 million they paid out last year.
  • Overall, this season's 44-event schedule will have a record $415 million in prize money — slightly more than the $405 million LIV will pay out for its 14-event season.

How it works: The PIP rewards the 20 golfers who drive the most engagement each season with a $100 million bonus pool, which they split. PIP bonus recipients must play in every elevated event they qualify for the following season.

The field: 39 players are competing at the TOC, including 17 PIP winners from last season, headlined by Jordan Spieth ($9 million in PIP bonus money for finishing third) and Justin Thomas ($7.5 million for fourth).

  • Tiger Woods won the PIP's $15 million grand prize for driving the most engagement, but didn't qualify for this week's TOC (must either win a tournament or qualify for the Tour Championship).
  • Rory McIlroy received a $12 million PIP bonus for finishing second, but he opted out* this week — somewhat surprising given he was integral in pushing for these exact changes.

*Each PIP winner is allowed one opt-out per year. Any more and they risk losing 75% of their bonus. Shane Lowry (12th place in PIP) also opted out of the TOC.

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