Jay Monahan defends criticism of PGA Tour’s no-cut designated events
The PGA Tour’s most influential figures came armed with talking points. Not long after Rory McIlroy rattled off no-cut win totals by Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan did the same for the aforementioned trio of stars.
Now, there was a slight discrepancy in their totals for Nicklaus and Palmer, but the point remains: there was some controversy regarding the Tour’s new designated events model it plans to roll out in 2024, and McIlroy, essentially the player-CEO of the PGA Tour, and the actual boss of the PGA Tour, were ready.
Monahan and McIlroy were just a couple of the Tour’s biggest names who fielded questions from the media on Tuesday at the Players Championship, the Tour’s flagship event. A hot topic was the Tour’s recently announced Designated Events Model, which begins next year. With the changes, eight of the Tour’s designated events will feature 70 to 80 players and have no cuts. This year, for the most part, they are full fields with cuts.
There are pathways for players not already qualified to play their way into the no-cut designated events, but some critics have still said this creates two different tiers of the PGA Tour.
“There was and there still is a lot of discussion and debate on whether or not there should be no cuts. But for us to be able to have our stars assured to play for four days is a really important element to this model going forward,” Monahan said. “We think that’s what fans want, particularly given the players have earned their right and their ability to play in those events.”
For those select designated events (which have not been announced yet), the top 50 players from the previous year’s FedEx Cup points list will get spots, as will the top 10 not otherwise eligible from the current year’s list. There’s also an opportunity for golfers not qualified to play their way in. The elevated events will be spaced out throughout the year, and the top-five pros not already qualified who secure the most FedEx Cup points in the non-designated events between the designated ones get spots in the upcoming designated tournament. (Still following?)
Monahan also reminded that many of the Tour’s tournaments don’t have cuts, saying “this is just a different form or flavor of a cut.”
He used the regular-season ending Wyndham Championship as an example, saying players in that event are trying to get into the top 70 for the next week’s first playoff event at the FedEx St. Jude in Memphis. That’s a cut. After that week, only 50 get into the next stage (the BMW Championship), which is essentially another cut since it’s those 50 that automatically qualify for the next season’s designated events. Then, the top 30 to the Tour Championship.
“Given the way that we are, given the emphasis that we’re placing as it relates to FedEx Cup points, the way prize money will be allocated, the importance of that concentration of players in the Official World Golf Ranking, there’s going to be an awful lot to play for Thursday, Friday Saturday and Sunday,” Monahan said. “… So I really feel that fans, as we get into this, and you actually see the results of it and some of these storylines develop, I think fans will appreciate what we’ve done here. But they will be the judge, and we’ve given a lot of thought to making certain we put ourselves in that position.”
Meanwhile, LIV Golf fans, players and even the official LIV Golf Twitter account didn’t waste the opportunity to point out the similarities to its format. (LIV is 54 holes but has no cut and small 48-player fields.)
“Do you think we really look the same?” Monahan said. “And, you know, the players that are competing in our events in this new format next year will have earned the right to compete in them and they will have earned it through top-50 position in the FedEx Cup this year as well as their performance in the fall and ultimately in these swings.”
Justin Thomas was asked a similar question. He paused for a few seconds, smiled, and then answered: “We have an astronomically higher amount of quality players than they do in their events.”