Tour Confidential: U.S. Ryder Cup captain, PGA Tour payouts, Zurich format

Tiger Woods reacts to his shot at the Masters

Will Tiger Woods be the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain?

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the hottest topics in the sport, and join the conversation by tweeting us at @golf_com. This week, we discuss the U.S. Ryder Cup captain search, the PGA Tour’s equity payouts, the Zurich Classic format and more.

1. As GOLF’s Sean Zak wrote last week, the PGA of America is about three months behind its usual schedule of announcing the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain. Any reason there might be a holdup, and do you anticipate the announcement coming at the PGA Championship in a couple of weeks? And, lastly, any chance it’s anybody but Tiger Woods?

Tiger Woods
The Ryder Cup is behind schedule in more ways than one | Tuesday Takes
By: Sean Zak

Josh Berhow, managing editor (@Josh_Berhow): I would assume the captain has been picked by now — or knows it’s about to become official — so he’s had the ability to start looking ahead to Bethpage. That said, if that’s not the case, then I have no clue what’s going on. But from everything you read and hear it’s Tiger’s job if he wants it; although that could also be a part of the delay. Is he deciding if he wants the gig? You know he’d rather play, but being a captain in Ireland (in 2027) might not be as fun as a home game. And sitting out until 2029 at Hazeltine is a long wait.

Jessica Marksbury, senior editor (@jess_marksbury): I like that take, Josh. The delay must have something to do with Tiger, and a looming decision one way or the other. Maybe he doesn’t want the gig, and now there’s a mad scramble to find a replacement. He does seem to have a lot going on in the coming months and years, with the PGA Tour policy board, TGL launch, and oh yeah, his own competitive schedule. A captaincy is a lot to take on, let alone a home game at Bethpage, of all places. But the PGA Championship is certainly a perfect time to amplify whatever decision is made. 

Josh Sens, senior writer (@joshsens): I agree that the lag is most likely on account of waiting for Tiger, the Hamlet of the PGA Tour. The man takes his time with his decisions. But I’d be shocked if he doesn’t take the job. A perfect man for the role, and he can take a cart!

2. Speaking of the Ryder Cup, DP World Tour CEO Guy Kinnings met with the media last week and reiterated that European players who bolted to LIV — like Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton — can still qualify for the 2025 Ryder Cup as long as they play enough events to qualify for league membership before being selected. You can learn more about it here, but in short it means these players have a path, although it requires some effort and more DP World Tour starts during LIV Golf’s off-weeks. What are the chances Rahm, Hatton and other Ryder Cup hopefuls go this route?

Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton pictured at the Ryder Cup
Jon Rahm can still play Ryder Cup if he does 1 thing
By: Sean Zak

Berhow: We’ll know soon enough, when one of those potential windows opens and we’ll see if any of those players enter. I think they will, especially Rahm. It’s a little extra work and travel, sure, but these guys don’t play in the middle row of a discount airline. This would be good for the Ryder Cup, too. Specifically referring to Rahm and Hatton, they bring a ton of fire to the event.

Marksbury: I can’t imagine why any European LIV player who wants to be a part of the Ryder Cup wouldn’t take this opportunity. Yeah, it’s a bit of a time and travel commitment, but it’s also additional reps for the players in full-field tournaments, not to mention a potential high-profile boost for the existing field. Seems like a win-win.

Sens: Sure, it takes some effort. But as Josh says, it’s hardly the heaviest of lifts. We will see both Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton on the European team in 2025. Bank it. The powers that be have made it relatively easy for them without having to lose too much face. And since Rahm and Hatton have both made it clear how much they love the event, it’s hard to see them not taking advantage of the window.

3. In an effort to reward pros who stayed loyal to the PGA Tour and didn’t leave for LIV Golf, the newly formed PGA Tour Enterprises created a Player Equity Program to compensate its membership in aggregate equity. Emails were sent out last week, informing some of the 193 eligible players how much they would receive out of the $930 million (although $750 million would go to a group of 36 players; learn more about the breakdown here). While these numbers were not made public, The Telegraph reported Tiger was set to receive $100 million in equity, and McIlroy as much as $50 million. Is this enough to make the stars happy?

Jordan Spieth Scottie Scheffler
How much is PGA Tour loyalty actually worth? Pros find out this week
By: Sean Zak

Berhow: Probably. But let’s just hope these two sides get a deal done sooner rather than later. The sport needs it, not more news about rich golfers making more millions cause they might have turned down a previous offer to become richer.

Marksbury: I’m not sure that many Tour players initially stayed because they expected some kind of future equity payment as compensation, but for the players who did end up receiving a check, I’m sure it’s very welcome. Still, for players like Tiger and Rory, I imagine it’s far, far less than what they would have commanded from LIV. The players who stayed did so for reasons other than money, I think.

Sens: I dunno. Clearly, for some people, no amount of money is enough. I figure these guys are probably satisfied with this particular exchange. The more important question in the long run is, how happy are fans with the product the pro game is putting out? Maybe they should dole out some ‘loyalty’ money to folks at home to ensure that they keep tuning in.

4. Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry won the Zurich Classic, beating Chad Ramey and Martin Trainer on the first playoff hole. McIlroy and Lowry, who decided to play the event on a whim, entered the week with 26 combined PGA Tour wins and five major titles, while Ramey and Trainer had won just once each. At the Zurich, qualified pros can pick any partner as long as they are a PGA Tour member. Does this straightforward format of coming up with teams make the Zurich imperfect, or perfect?

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry celebrate at the Zurich Classic.
Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry win Zurich Classic in playoff
By: Josh Sens

Berhow: At first glance it seems imperfect, as you might assume the powerhouse teams always win when you can just pick your partner and guys like Rory and Shane can team up, but that hasn’t been the case. Sure, Cantlay and Xander enter every year, but they have only won once. Ryan Palmer asked Jon Rahm to play once and they won in 2019 — smart move by Palmer — but you also have a tournament like last year, when Nick Hardy and Davis Riley won. Even Cam Smith won twice before he really became Cam Smith. In short, these guys are all good, and they can all win on any given week, especially with a unique format like this that tests your strategy and teamwork. So I’m going to call it perfect.

Marksbury: Great point, Josh. I’m torn on this one. As fun as it is to see Tour buddies chumming it up, I can’t help but think a blind draw could really spice things up. To your point, all these guys are good. Some unexpected pairings — for the players, and the viewers! — would be really fun.

Sens: I like it. It allows for some entertaining twists, including brothers (the Hojgaards) playing together, and senior citizens like Russ Cochran getting in as the father of his partner’s caddie. You wouldn’t want this kind of thing week in and week out. But it’s a fun break from the same old, as is the four-ball, foursomes format.

5. Let’s close with some indoor golf. Woods announced Max Homa, Tom Kim and Kevin Kisner will join his TGL team, Jupiter Links Golf Club, which will debut in 2025. What are your thoughts on Woods’ roster?

Tiger Woods walks down a fairway at the 2024 Masters.
Tiger Woods unveils his 4-player TGL roster (with 1 intriguing theme)
By: Josh Berhow

Berhow: As I wrote last week, it seems like a selection of guys who are both A) good at golf; and B) should be good on TV. Kisner isn’t as competitive as the other three right now, but watching this isn’t just about these guys going low in simulator golf. It’s just as important to carry it with fun conversation, jabs, jokes and good stories. Kisner will be super valuable there.

Marksbury: I agree. This is a team with some serious personality, destined to be a league favorite regardless of how they perform. I’m looking forward to seeing the dynamic in real-time.

Sens: Right. It’s all about personalities. You need that in televised goofy golf. Whether those personalities will be enough to make indoor golf of this kind interesting… that’s another question. We’ll see.

generic profile image