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Jack Nicklaus concerned PGA Tour has turned into 'two tiers'

October 12, 2022

Sam Greenwood

Jack Nicklaus voiced concerns with the PGA Tour’s new schedule, worried recent changes could create two tours within the tour.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Nicklaus said commissioner Jay Monahan has some work ahead to make the upcoming adjustments—specifically the elevation of a handful of tournaments—fit into the tour’s delicate tapestry.

"I'm not sure what to make of it yet," Nicklaus told the AP. "I think the tour was going to get there, but the LIV thing pushed them. That's pretty obvious. What it's done is made the PGA Tour almost two tiers. All of a sudden the other tournaments become feeders."

At the Tour Championship in August, Monahan announced that in 2023 the tour is moving to a new schedule that will feature 12 elevated events, in addition to the majors and the Players Championship, and a commitment from the game’s “top players” to compete in at least 20 tournaments. A “top player” will now be defined by the tour as an individual who finishes in the top 20 in the PIP, meaning making the list grants invites into the tour's biggest events featuring the biggest purses. Eight of the events have been announced—the three legs of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the Genesis Invitational, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Memorial, the WGC-Dell Match Play and the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Four other events will be announced at a later date.

Nicklaus is one of the beneficiaries of this new structure, as his annual gathering at Muirfield Village outside of Columbus, Ohio, has elevated status. However, Nicklaus also works closely with the Honda Classic, a tournament that in recent years that has been bypassed by most of the game’s bigger names despite the event being played in close proximity to Jupiter, Fla., a popular hangout for tour players. Though the event used to draw solid fields, it has been the victim of scheduling, sandwiched between the Genesis on one end and the API and Players Championship on the other. That predicament will continue as all three tournaments have elevated status.

"It's been in a tough spot for the last four to five years sitting there between L.A. [Genesis] and Bay Hill [Arnold Palmer]. I think they'd like to get out of that spot," Nicklaus told the AP. "Since we're beneficiaries, I've had some reasonable talk with Jay about it. I've got a few ideas we're exploring. We're trying to figure out a way to move the date and make it more significant.

"But you know what? You go there, you'll find out the people will still be there. There will be great crowds, they'll raise a lot of money and it will do well in spite of not having some of the players. It's still pretty good."

Whatever reservations Nicklaus’ harbors, It’s worth noting he remains an ally of the PGA Tour. In May, Nicklaus confirmed he turned down an offer in excess of $100 million to partner with LIV Golf as its CEO.

“I turned it down. Once verbally, once in writing,” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘Guys, I have to stay with the PGA Tour. I helped start the PGA Tour.’”