McIlroy, Spieth, Scheffler, Thomas: Thumbs Up on 24 Schedule

Rory McIlroy, THE PLAYERS Championship,(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, THE PLAYERS Championship,(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) /

At The Players Championship, golfers are usually talking about the wind and how hard it’s going to be to hit the 17th green. Or whether or not they will try to drive the 12th. Or why the 18th hole is the hardest. This week, however, conversations are about the new PGA Tour schedule, Designated Events, and whether the number of limited-field events are fair to all players.

The answer depends on where they are on the FedEx Cup points list and world golf ranking. Those at the top are fine with it. Those farther down are not, as James Hahn made clear in his tweets this week.

"“I think where we’re at is ultimately going to make it stronger for the PGA TOUR and better for fans.” –  Patrick Cantlay."

There was a player meeting on Tuesday morning at 7 AM to present the details to any golfer who wanted to attend. Many who are in favor of the new plan did not go.

But Rory McIlroy, who worked on this new system with other players and the Tour, certainly did. Then he met with media.

"“I think when more information and data was presented to them, the people that maybe had reservations about it, I think, came around,” McIlroy said about the confab. “The Tour executives did a really good job of basically just walking them through the slides that we saw in the board meeting last Tuesday.”"

Of all the players who spoke to the media on Tuesday, Jordan Spieth revealed new information on the summer meeting in Delaware that top players were invited to attend.

"“It’s not two separate tours, as much as that might be perceived that way. In Delaware, that was the first presentation, was essentially two separate tours,” Spieth revealed. “To get to a place where every single full card holder can play in every single PGA Tour event that season meant there had to be some give from then.”"

Patrick Cantlay said the first ideas proposed at the Delaware meeting were more what do you think of this or that.  He said it was not fine-tuned. The version they have now, he likes.

“I think where we’re at is ultimately going to make it stronger for the PGA TOUR and better for fans,” Patrick Cantlay noted in his press conference.

"“So, I think the changes are great. The incentive couldn’t be any higher for people to play as well as they possibly can. I think that’s fantastic.”"

So, the PGA Tour players basically split the baby.

Some events for the more elite golfers and some events for everyone.

"“I would say the model is succeeding so far,” Scottie Scheffler said about this year’s Designated Events when he met with media. “I’m 50/50 on that because as a player I think a cut is good. I think when you go to the other side and you go to sponsors, a cut is probably bad.”"

Xander Schauffele believes the changes and the new program are going to work, but as he said, no one knows until they try it. “They look fine to me,” he said to the media

"“But I think unless you get enough sort of years under your belt where you see how the flow of it is, if someone’s getting screwed or someone’s not getting screwed and things of that nature, if good play’s rewarded. I think you just need a bigger sample size to sort of adjust and move on.”"

Reading between the lines, that means that while the 2023 year is packed with Designated Events, 2024 will be different.  For one thing, top players will not be required to play in all the elevated tournaments.

Max Homa called the reaction from golfers on Tour a “mixed bag.” He noted when he met with the media that many players have approached him to ask questions or to give their opinions on the new plan.

As Homa is relatively new to victories and leaderboards, perhaps he has more friends in the middle ranks of the Tour.

"“Something I have heard quite a bit of in these conversations is, well, I understand this isn’t for me as I’m not a top-50 player.” – Max Homa"

He added that he’s been doing his best to explain how it is or can be for them.

"“I think it’s great for the fans as we will have more of the top players battling more often.”  “And I think it’s going to be really exciting at events that aren’t designated to see that if you win, yes, you’re in the designated events.”"

Justin Thomas noted that it’s going to be hard to please 200 PGA Tour players.

“There’s not going to be any model that makes everybody happy. That’s just a stone-cold fact,” he said to the media about the coming changes.

He believes next year’s plan is better for everyone, including fans, sponsors, and charities.

“I just don’t see how it’s not better,” he added. “It’s going to push all of us.”

After all the talk and explanations, one question remains.  Is it possible to fit all the Designated Event categories into the top 70 or top 80 players?  The PGA Tour thinks so, but here is who will be able to play:

  • Top 50 as of this year’s BMW.  That’s 50.
  • Sponsor exemptions for each no-cut tournament number four.  So that’s 54.
  • Top 10 players, not otherwise eligible, from the FedEx Cup Points List. That’s 64.
  • Top 5 players who earned the most FedEx Cup points through tournament play. That’s 69.
  • Next is where field size could be a bit like an accordion: Current year tournament winners.

dark. Next. Fantasy Golf: 2023 PLAYERS Championship DFS Selections

This won’t be an issue for Designated Events for the first couple of months, but by the time each season reaches June, that could be as many as 22, if no player repeated as a winner between January 1 and June 1 and if they were not already in the top 50.

That could be as many as 91 players. If a player is already eligible and wins, then the total in the Designated field does not increase.

It’s going to be interesting to see the details when they come out this summer.