Have you been longing for PGA Tour golf?
Well, after a lengthy two-week offseason, the PGA Tour and, most importantly, the projected FedEx Cup standings are back this week at the Fortnite Fortinet Championship. The 2022-23 season will mark the beginning of a series of changes that the PGA Tour will make to its structure in an effort to prevent LIV Golf from pillaging more top players. Here are two big ones, along with some commentary:
Change No. 1: Instead of 125, only the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings will make the playoffs this year.
Reaction: Thank God. When you look at the players hovering around 125 in the standings at the end of a season, it’s difficult to remember seeing many of them on a Sunday telecast. A stricter cutoff for the playoffs will mean that fans will be able to associate most of the qualifiers with a moment or performance. As a bonus, if we’re forced to watch a million FedEx Cup updates over the next year, at least they’ll feel slightly more meaningful.
Change No. 2: After this year, the fall series, which started getting full FedEx Cup points in 2013, will look a lot different.
Reaction: So there will be an actual offseason? Uh, not really. We’ll still have the Euro Tour, LIV, and others going full tilt after the FedEx Cup ends. But at least we won’t have the same glob of meaningless garbage-time PGA Tour events. The biggest issue with the fall events is the Tour hasn’t been weighting FEC points for them. Players get the same amount of points for beating up a weak fall field as they do for performing well at strong events like the Waste Management and Torrey Pines. This dynamic made even Tour Championship-level guys feel that they had to play more fall ball, exacerbating the burnout among both fans and players. You could argue that the 2012 decision to give the fall series full points created one of the vulnerabilities that LIV is currently exploiting. LIV can promise an offseason in which there’s no pressure for players to keep grinding.
But stripping events of points won’t be easy. Consider the Fortinet. The Napa stop is one that players and spouses enjoy because of the relaxing atmosphere and copious vineyards nearby. How would Fortinet, a company that has invested significantly in golf, react to losing points and seeing its field strength diminished? My guess is they wouldn’t love it.
Still, it’s a change that has to happen. As much as the sponsors who fork over tens of millions of dollars are important to the Tour, Jay Monahan has an even more valuable asset to appease: star players.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg Newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.