[PHOTO: Christian Petersen]
The PGA Tour is today expected to outline for its membership alterations to the 2023 portion of the current schedule, namely the designation of four additional elevated events, Golf Digest has confirmed.
Multiple sources told Golf Digest that the four new elevated tournaments are the Waste Management Phoenix Open, RBC Heritage, Wells Fargo Championship and the Travelers Championship. There will now be 13 events designated as “elevated” next year with purses of at least $US20 million for all but one of them (the Sentry Tournament of Champions purse is $US15 million) and guaranteed appearances by the game’s top players. Sources said that the events were identified early on in the process because of their respective slots in a schedule already set.
The four events in 2022 offered purses ranging from $US8 million (Heritage) to $US9 million (Wells Fargo). It is not yet known if the sponsors of the respective events are responsible for the entirety of the purse increase. The names of events were first reported by Golfweek.
At the Tour Championship in August, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced the intention of adding the four additional elevated events to the schedule that already included nine other tour stops previously given that designation. Those events are the Players Championship, WGC–Dell Technologies Match Play, the three FedEx Cup playoff events and three invitational tournaments (Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational and Memorial Tournament). At that time, Monahan said that top players were committed to competing in 16 tour events; the 13 elevated tournaments plus three others of their choosing.
Two of the four new elevated events will be held the week after a Major (RBC Heritage in April and the Travelers Championship in June). The WM Phoenix Open comes a week before the Genesis Invitational in February.
The elevated status applies solely to the 2023 schedule. A 2024 slate, in which the FedEx Cup season will be shortened and contained within the calendar year (January to August), has not yet been determined. Elevated classification does not apply to the four Major championships conducted by other governing bodies.
Monahan’s plan to establish elevated events and commitments from top players to all jointly play in those tournaments was a response to the upstart LIV Golf Series that has offered guaranteed contracts and exorbitant purses in its initial season. The Saudi-backed LIV circuit has lured a number of high-profile tour players since it launched in June, including Major winners Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and reigning Open champion Cam Smith.
It also came after a players-only meeting organised by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods was held ahead of the BMW Championship in Delaware in which the concept of the elevated events was discussed and forwarded on to Monahan and tour officials.
The PGA Tour previously announced that the total purse for the 2022-2023 season, the last split-calendar season for the foreseeable future, was $US428.6 million spread across 44 events. With the elevation of purses in the 13 tournaments, prizemoney rises to an estimated $US528.9 million. That does not include FedEx Cup bonus money or the increase in the Player Impact Program from $50 million to $100 million.