How does a non-‘top player’ choose his schedule? This Tour winner has a system for it
We know all the “top players” on the PGA Tour — those in the top-20 of the Player Impact Program — will all play the same 17 events, including the PGA Tour’s 13 “elevated events”.
But that will only mean solidified schedules for those 20 pros. There will still be plenty of players, and good ones at that, to fill out the rest of the fields at those elevated events and all of the other events that won’t see as many of the “top players”
One of those players will be PGA Tour winner Aaron Wise.
Wise is certainly no slouch on tour. He finished 13th in the FedEx Cup a season ago after 11 top-25s in 2021-22 and sits just a shot off the lead entering the third round of the CJ Cup in South Carolina this weekend.
One of the CJ Cup’s co-leaders, Jon Rahm, who is a “top player” and will be required to play in all of the elevated events plus three more FedEx Cup events, has already expressed his concerns this week about whether he’ll be able to play enough on the DP World Tour events to keep his status there given his PGA Tour schedule demands.
Wise won’t have that problem, but he doesn’t have the best history on the early swings of the PGA Tour year.
“I don’t play all that well on some of the west coast,” Wise said after his second-round 66 at Congaree. “So the better I play [in the fall], the more I can maybe take off on the west coast and kind of wait for the Florida swing to hit where I feel like I’m a lot more comfortable on the golf courses.
“I don’t get it, man. I love Torrey [Pines], I love [Riviera], I love a lot of the courses over there, but I just don’t seem to play them all that well. I’m waiting for it to change, I’m working on my game, getting better and hopefully at some point it can click and I can play well there.”
While Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines will not be an elevated event this season, Riviera’s Genesis Invitational will be for the foreseeable future. Wise made the cut for the first time in his career last year at the Genesis, but he prefers the following week’s Honda Classic in Florida, near his home in Jupiter, where he’s three for four in cuts made.
Not only does the Honda come after the Genesis next season, but it will be behind back-to-back elevated events with the WM Phoenix Open preceding the the Genesis. There will also be back-to-back elevated events after the Honda when the Tour shifts to Orlando for the Arnold Palmer Invitational and then to The Players Championship.
That’s four events with combined purses of $85 million in five weeks, with the Honda falling in between. Luckily, Wise said he won’t be making his schedule based on gut instinct.
“It’s going to be a tricky game to figure out which ones I play, which ones I don’t, but I lean pretty heavily on Dodo, who’s my stat guy,” Wise said. “So he’ll kind of run some numbers and see based on World Ranking Points and money like which ones make sense and which ones don’t for me to play in.”
We’ve seen analytics enter golf when it comes to pairings for team competitions, but now it seems they’re even helping players pick their schedule now.
And Wise said if the analytics tell him to take off one of the elevated events and play the Honda, he’ll probably do it because unlike the top players in the PIP, he has that option.
“It’s definitely something like I look at Riv and Honda and if my stats guy comes back and says, look, it makes a ton of sense for you to play Honda because you’re going to earn more World Ranking Points there, which is what I care about the most, then it might be a thing where I take off Riv and play Honda just because it suits me better,” Wise said.
While the forecast for Congaree is just about perfect for the weekend — mid-70s, sun and a light 10 mph breeze — Wise did add there is one event he won’t commit to without knowing what the weather will look like.
“Pebble’s actually one that fits me pretty well,” Wise said. “It’s just one of those weeks with three courses and the weather is a big factor on whether you kind of play it just because it can turn into a really, really long week especially getting into some of the elevated events we’re going to have right after it.
“The weather can be great there and it’s one of the best weeks of the year. If you have to play four rounds in cold, rain, windy, it’s not much fun. That’s definitely the event you look the most at the weather to see if you’re going to play it or not.”