Elevated events show the split among PGA Tour events for ’23

RIDGELAND, SC (AP) — The PGA Tour will have a four-month stretch of 12 tournaments that are either majors or carry $20 million in purses, making for a taxing year for the elite players.

The tour will announce Wednesday that the WM Phoenix Open, the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, the Wells Fargo Championship and the Travelers Championship will be among the “elevated events” where the top players will have to play, a person with direct knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press.

The concept of elevated events was first announced in late August in response to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf League, which aims to bring together the best players as many as 17 times, including majors and FedEx Cup playoffs.

High-profile events cost an average of $20 million.

The addition of four elevated events was first reported by Golfweek. That was confirmed to the AP on Tuesday by a person who spoke on condition of anonymity pending Wednesday’s publication.

Extras create a busy schedule. Beginning with the Phoenix Open on February 9-12, there will be four elevated events over a five-week period, followed by the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, then a week later, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship in consecutive weeks.

An unusual tournament is the Honda Classic, and Jack Nicklaus expressed concern in a recent interview that it could lead to a two-tier schedule.

“All of a sudden the other tournaments become feeders,” Nicklaus said.

Two major events, the RBC Heritage and the Travelers Championship, are the week after the majors. The Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow is May 4-7. That kicks off a run of five major events in eight weeks, including the PGA Championship and the US Open.

“I’m not interested in playing after the big one, but I’ve seen people do it and I’ve seen people do well, so there’s no reason why you can’t,” Jon Rahm said.

The last player to win a major the following week was Tiger Woods in 2006, when the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone followed his victory at the PGA Championship in Medina.

For Texas-born Jordan Spieth, May is becoming a problem. He hasn’t played in the Wells Fargo Championship since 2013 when he needed sponsor exemptions. Spieth plays in two Dallas events, the Colonial and the Byron Nelson, which are now sandwiched around the PGA Championship.

He would be looking at a schedule that takes him from the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina to the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas, the PGA Championship in Upstate New York, the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Ohio Memorial.

After a week off, he would go to the US Open in Los Angeles and the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

“I don’t like to do more than four in a row, but I like hometown events,” Spieth said. “And I played them very well. Then we just had a good Presidents Cup over there in Wells Fargo, so there was the main one and then Jack’s event (Memorial) … I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but it looks like it’s probably five in a row. ”

The concept that came out of the players-only meeting in August was to increase the prize pool to get the best players in the same tournaments.

The plan announced by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan was for top players to commit to a 20-event schedule that would include 12 “major events,” the Players Championship, four majors and three tournaments of their choice.

Top players are defined as those who finished in the top 20 in the old and new model of the Player Impact Program. PIP offers a $100 million bonus that can only be paid out after a player competes in 16 major events.

“Sometimes when the schedule is set and you have to go play, it makes things easier, at least I think,” Rahm said. “You have to play these events and then organize the others, which is simple in that sense. Plus, you put on great events. They’re all fantastic golf courses, all amazing events, lots of history, everything. So they are worthy of it.”


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