What will PGA Tour fields look like in 2024? Here’s what we know
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has been making the rounds. He feels obligated to get out in front of the Tour membership and explain exactly what’s coming down the pike: a completely revolutionized system.
Monahan was in the Dominican Republic last week, the most recent opposite field event, where there was a full field of the kind of player whose future looks less certain in 2024 than it maybe has in the past. He made a similar appearance at the Players Championship, where a player meeting bordered on contentious, according to those on the ground.
The need for these appearances is obvious. The Tour is finalizing a completely new schedule and eligibility structure that is both beginning next year and sort of already in place. Next year the events get real, but this year’s performance is what matters. In recent weeks, Tour players have acknowledged that these meetings were helpful but ultimately not a place for much debate. “There’s not much to say when it’s set in stone,” one Tour player said at the Valspar Championship.
This week, we have a better understanding of what, exactly, is set in stone, thanks to a memo sent to the Tour membership Monday: the distribution of FedEx Cup points, how these points will differ between tournaments, what a “swing” is on the schedule and what happens for players No. 51, 71 or 126 left on the outside looking in.
It’s not getting harder to become a Tour member
…it’s just getting better for the best players. The Tour has made no changes to the number of golfers who will have a Tour card in their wallets next year. One hundred and twenty five is still the magic total. When that list of 125 is locked into place — that’s changing.
The fall will determine the top 125
When the Tour’s regular season has ended, and the FedEx Cup has played out, players ranked 51st to 70th will have next year’s job security locked in, but will have more incentives to play that fall. The top 10 players during a series of fall tournaments will play their way into the first two designated events in 2024 (likely Pebble Beach and Riviera). Beyond that, players ranked 71st or worse will be encouraged to play in the fall to maintain their place above the water line, which is set at No. 125. For example, James Hahn finished 117th last year. Hahn would take his 400 FedEx Cup points and move on to the fall, hopeful to rack up enough points to make sure he doesn’t drop down to 126th. The fall will exist as a secondary playoffs, if you will, to determine who can confidently start to build a schedule for the next calendar year. The pressure will be on — whoever finishes 125th will have no issues. Whoever finishes 126th will drop down the Priority Ranking, beneath the incoming players from the DP World Tour, graduates from the Korn Ferry Tour and Q-School. Put simply, finishing 126th is actually like finishing 171st or worse. The fall is important! The Tour shared this infographic with its membership Monday evening.
Swing, swing, swing…swing, swing.
A popular term golf fans will have to get used to is Swing. Full Swing, half-swing, West Coast Swing. The new schedule will include many “swings” between designated events, little two- or three-tournament bursts where points are gained for further access into the big events. There is bound to be a swing in January and a swing before the Masters and a swing through the Texas events in May. When the designated event stretch passes, the swing points reset. On to the next swing.
This is how the Tour keeps its hottest players playing its most important events. If Joel Dahmen finishes in the top 5 at the Sony Open, then finishes T16 at the AmEx and polishes it off with a T8 at Torrey Pines, he’ll have played better golf than most non-winners at those tournaments and will be close to the top of the West Coast “swing” qualification. Had he not already been exempt, he would probably earn his way into the reportedly designated Pebble Beach Pro-Am. That designated field would be filled as such:
– Top 50 FedEx Cup 2023
– Top 10 not exempt from current FedEx List
– Top 5 not exempt who have earned the most points THAT SWING (where Joel would earn his way in)
– Tournament winners that year (i.e. whoever won the Farmers Insurance Open)
– Top 30 OWGR
– Four Sponsor’s Exemptions
So, what’s a win worth?
It all depends when it happens. A win in a major championship brings endless glory, sure, but it also awards 750 FedEx Cup points. A player who has done that would just have to maintain a pulse to make the top 50 for designated exemption the following season.
A win at a designated event is almost just as good. Seven hundred points will go to the winners of those tourneys, once again essentially solidifying their status in the following season. Could the winner of the Genesis Invitational finish dead last in every other event and then still miss out on the top 50? Sure. Pigs will be flying, though.
Winners of full-field events like the Valspar will earn 500 points and access to the remaining designated events that season. This could be huge, so long as it happens early enough. Using this year as an example, Si Woo Kim’s win at the Sony would have earned him a spot in every designated event the rest of the year. From there he could easily vault into the top 50. But J.T. Poston, for example, won the John Deere Classic last year. A win like Poston’s would only have access to the remaining designated events that calendar season. That would only be the FedEx Cup playoffs. He would earn an invite to the Sentry Tournament of Champions, though! A more pressing issue for players is how many FedEx Cup points will be dished out for non-wins. Notably, for a top 10 finish at the Valspar compared to, say, the no-cut Genesis Invitational.
Solace for Mr. 51
Sometime in August, we’ll know who the first player on the outside looking in will be (unless they’re somehow ranked in the top 30 in the OWGR). That’s Mr. 51. It’ll be a tough pill to swallow, no matter who they are, but it’ll be made easier by that player retaining their points for the fall push. Mr. 51, Mr. 61, even Mr. 111 will all take the points they’ve earned to that point in 2023 and hold onto them throughout the fall. They’d want to keep playing during this mad-dash for points, but they would not have to start back at 0. If Mr. 51 can bag another top 10 finish in the fall, they’ll be booking their trip to the first two designated events of 2024.
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