CROMWELL, Conn.—The PGA Tour is planning some radical changes in the face of an effort by the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series to poach its top players. The moves include a significant reduction in the number of members who are fully exempt each season and the addition of a lucrative three-stop series of international events for top performers. And all of that means more changes to the oft-tweaked FedEx Cup.
Under the current system governing the FedEx Cup, the top 125 finishers in the season-long points race qualified for the first playoff event, with the top 70 in the standings progressing to the second event and, finally, the top 30 making the elite Tour Championship, where the winner receives $18 million from a $75 million bonus pool.
Four sources have confirmed to Golfweek the details of some imminent major changes. Starting at the end of the 2022-2023 season, only the top 70 players in FedEx Cup points will qualify for the first playoff tournament, the FedEx St. Jude Championship. The top 50 in the standings will move onward to the BMW Championship one week later, with the traditional top 30 players progressing on to the Tour Championship at East Lake.
In addition, the 50 players who qualify for the BWW Championship will also earn berths in a lucrative three-event series to be held overseas in the fall of 2023. Those events are expected to be staged in Asia, Europe and the Middle East in consecutive weeks with purses of at least $20 million each.
Only the 70 players who earn a berth in the playoffs will secure their playing privileges for the following season, which will begin in January 2024, when the PGA Tour moves away from the current wrap-around season and returns to one based on the calendar year. “The rest jockey in the fall series events,” said one industry source familiar with the details.
Under the new system, players who finish outside the top 70 and fail to qualify for the playoffs will compete in a series of domestic Tour events during the Fall that will determine their status and priority for the following season. The intent of the changes is to bestow greater reward on top performers on the PGA Tour, many of whom have been approached by LIV Golf with guaranteed offers, and reduce the number of members who can retain playing status despite unimpressive results.
Details of the plan were presented to the Tour’s board Tuesday night in Connecticut. A PGA Tour spokesperson declined to confirm the details of the planned changes to Golfweek.