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Rory McIlroy says LIV has put the golf world in flux. Photo: AP

PGA boosts 2023 purses for four events in LIV-fight revamp

  • LIV’s record US$25 million purses have lured away top talent from the PGA, including British Open winner and world No 3 Cameron Smith
  • In reply, the PGA is significantly boosting the prize pool for its key events in 2023, with key players committing to the Tour’s biggest events
PGA Tour

Next year’s Phoenix Open, Heritage tournament, Wells Fargo Championship and Travelers Championship will have purses boosted to US$20 million and guaranteed appearances by top golfers, the US PGA Tour announced Wednesday.

The moves complete a PGA revamp to combat the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series that was announced by tour commissioner Jay Monahan in August at the Tour Championship.

Star PGA players such as four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion, have committed to playing 17 events with elevated purses next year as a way to combat more players departing for the upstart LIV Series.

The rival circuit’s record US$25 million purses and guaranteed contracts for 54-hole events have lured away top talent from the PGA, including British Open winner and world number three Cameron Smith of Australia, Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, two-time major winner Dustin Johnson and past Masters winners Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed.

World No 1 Scottie Scheffler tees off the 16th hole during a pro-am before The CJ Cup at Congaree Golf Club. Photo: AFP

McIlroy took issue Wednesday with remarks by Mickelson that LIV Golf was trending higher and the PGA was on a downward trend.

“The guys that went over to LIV, they’re the ones that have made the disruption, they’re the ones that have sort of put the golf world in flux right now,” McIlroy said.

“I guess for them to be talking the way they are, it’s bold and I think there’s a ton of propaganda being used and all sorts of stuff.

“I certainly don’t see the PGA Tour trending downward at all. All the talent, 95% of the talent is here … I don’t agree with what Phil said. I understand why he said it because of the position he is in, but I don’t think anyone that takes a logical view of the game of golf can agree with what he said.”

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In addition to the four new events, others with increased purses and player commitments include the four major championships, the Players Championship, the three FedEx Cup playoff events, the Tournament of Champions, WGC Match Play, Memorial tournament, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Genesis Invitational hosted by Tiger Woods.

Players finishing in the top 20 of this year’s Player Impact Program, a measuring of player popularity that pays bonus money for well-known talent, are required to play in all events they qualify for as well as three other events, ensuring PGA stars make at least 20 appearances a year.

“This is an extraordinary and unprecedented commitment, a testament to who these guys are and what they believe in,” Monahan said in announcing the plan in August.

The four elevated events for 2023 are for next year only with other tournaments potentially replacing them in future years should the PGA wish to ensure its biggest names compete in a wider array of tournaments over other seasons.

The Phoenix Open, Wells Fargo Championship, Travelers Championship and Heritage will retain their traditional spots on the tour calendar and eligibility criteria allowing from more than 120 players at each.

The Phoenix Open is staged in February with the Heritage coming the week after the Masters in April, the Wells Fargo three weeks later in Charlotte and the Travelers played the week after the US Open.

Among other changes made by the PGA was a minimum of US$500,000 payout to any player with a PGA Tour card.