Should LIV Golf’s top players wish to return to the PGA Tour, they’ll need a heck of a lot more than contrition.
On Wednesday at the Tour Championship, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced a groundswell of changes to golf’s biggest professional tour aimed at increasing the payout and stature of the game’s top players, while improving the financial standing of its fringe competitors. The changes — which include a $500,000 annual float payment to pros, a $5,000 missed-cut check, a travel stipend, and the creation of a new series of big-purse ‘elevated events’ — mark a tremendous shift to a PGA Tour structure that has been battered in recent months by the rise of LIV Golf.
In many ways, the changes also represent those sought by many of LIV’s defectors, who cited higher payments and better living conditions among their biggest reasons for joining the new league. But if any of LIV’s players are having second thoughts about their decision after seeing the PGA Tour news, Monahan says it’s likely best for them to keep it to themselves.
“They’ve joined the LIV Golf Series and they’ve made that commitment. For most of them, they’ve made multi-year commitments,” Monahan said in a press conference announcing the changes. “As I’ve been clear throughout, every player has a choice, and I respect their choice, but they’ve made it. We’ve made ours. We’re going to continue to focus on the things that we control and get stronger and stronger. I think they understand that.”
As for whether he would consider lifting the suspensions of those on LIV who may wish to return to the PGA Tour, Monahan was blunt.
According to court filings from both sides, the Tour has been aggressive in its punishment for LIV’s players, levying lifetime bans upon those who resigned their Tour membership in order to join the new league and suspensions of as long as a year per event to those who kept their membership while leaving for LIV.
Of course, the outcome of those suspensions will likely be determined by the courts, where lawsuits have already been filed against the Tour on behalf of a chunk of the suspended players, and it’ll be a while until we have a firmer answer. The judge presiding over the case between the PGA Tour and LIV’s suspended players won’t hear arguments until the beginning of 2024 at the earliest.
Still, Monahan had no issue stating his intent to sustain the (in some cases, multi-year) suspensions levied by the Tour. Ultimately, he says, if the players were concerned about crossing back across the line in the sand, they shouldn’t have been the ones to draw it in the first place.
“As it relates to any of the scenarios for LIV players and coming back, I’ll remind you that we’re in a lawsuit,” he said. “They’ve sued us. I think talking about any hypotheticals at this point doesn’t make a lot of sense.”