Faced with a growing challenge from the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, the US PGA Tour announced a 2022-23 season schedule on Monday offering a record $415 million (A$591m) in prize money.
The PGA boosted the prize money at eight invitational tournaments, with The Players Championship set to pay out $25 million (A$35.6m), and will offer $145 million (A$206m) in bonus money, including $75 million (A$107m) for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which will be trimmed to 70 players from the current 125.
The move comes as the LIV Golf Series has offered the highest purses in history to lure big-name talent from the PGA to its upstart tour, which is set to rise from eight events in 2022 to 14 in 2023.
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LIV Golf has drawn protests and claims of “sportwashing” from critics citing Saudi human rights issues but such stars as Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Bryson DeChambeau, Paul Casey and Patrick Reed have jumped to the rebel series that debuted in June.
The US PGA, which will return to a season that coincides with the calendar year starting in 2024, tightened its playoffs and boosted select purses after comments from fans, PGA commissioner Jay Monahan said.
“The overwhelming sentiment was they wanted more consequences for both the regular season and the playoffs and to further strengthen events that traditionally feature top players competing head-to-head,” Monahan said. “We feel strongly we’ve accomplished all of these objectives.”
The 2022-23 PGA season will have 47 tournaments, including three playoff events next August with a field of 70 at the St. Jude Championship in Memphis, 50 at the BMW Championship in Chicago and the top 30 in points advancing to the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.
After the season ends, late 2023 will feature events for those outside the top 70 to earn status for the 2024 PGA campaign plus a series of “international events” featuring the PGA top 50 in a limited field, no-cut format.
No other details were revealed about those events.
The St. Jude and BMW will see a jump in prize money from $15 million to $20 million.
The January Tournament of Champions will see its purse rise from $8.2 to $15 million next year.
It will become the lead-off event of the PGA season when the schedule changes in 2024.
Four events will see prize money jump from $12 million to $20 million — the Genesis Invitational in February hosted by Tiger Woods, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in March, the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial in June and the WGC Match Play in March.
Prize money will jump from $20 million to $25 million for The Players Championship in March.
In total, that’s an additional $53.8 million (A$76.6m) in prize money across eight events.
The Scottish Open, Barbasol Championship and Barracuda Championship will remain co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour.
The 2022-23 campaign will begin on September 15-18 with the Fortinet Championship at Napa, California, with the Presidents Cup the following week at Quail Hollow.
The CJ Cup has been moved from South Korea to South Carolina and will be played in October with the Bermuda Championship the following week.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic, won Sunday by Tony Finau, will start June 29 next year while the 3M Open moves to the end of July.