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PGA Tour to overhaul 'designated' events in 2024, moving to limited-field, no-cut tournaments

March 01, 2023

Ross Kinnaird

The PGA Tour’s designated events for 2024 will feature limited fields and no cuts after the tour’s Policy Board voted to approve a new structure for the tournaments in a Tuesday night meeting.

In a memo to PGA Tour members sent to players Wednesday, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan made the news official. “After careful consideration of several options, I’m excited to announce that we are moving forward with what we are calling the Designated Event Model," Monahan wrote.

The changes was first reported earlier in the day by Golfweek, with sources confirming the matter to Golf Digest. The 2024 designated events will include the four majors, the Players, the three FedEx Cup playoff events and an additional eight still-to-be determined tournaments. Of those eight, four are presumed to be the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Genesis Invitational, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial.

A possible reduction in the number of players at the premier tournaments has been a chief discussion point among tour pros and officials since Monahan announced the creation of the designated events as part of sweeping changes to the tour structure last August. Monahan acknowledged as much in the memo. "These smaller, Designated event fields will not only deliver substantial, can’t-miss tournaments to our fans at important intervals throughout the season, but they will also enhance the quality of full-field events," Monahan wrote.

Truncated fields without a cut will prove to be more financially beneficial to the game’s stars versus the tour’s previous model, helping the tour keep its talent from defecting to the fledgling LIV Golf League. However, keeping these events open to the rank-and-file membership, along with up-and-coming players and those on a hot streak, was a non-negotiable aspect of the designated events from tour officials, a source tells Golf Digest.

According to Monahan’s memo, players eligible to compete in Designated events include:

• The top 50 players from the previous year’s FedEx Cup points list
• The top 10 players not otherwise eligible using the current FedEx Cup standings
• The top 5 players not otherwise eligible earning the most FedEx Cup points between designated events
• Current year PGA Tour winners not otherwise eligible
• PGA Tour members in the top 30 Official World Golf Ranking

Earlier on Wednesday a source told Golf Digest the field sizes were expected to be in the range of 70 to 80 players, which the memo confirmed. Speaking to the media Wednesday at Bay Hill, Rory McIlroy cautioned that the three invitational events at Bay Hill, Riviera and Muirfield Village could still have cuts.

Tournaments will continue to have four sponsor’s exemptions to round out their fields. Nevertheless, there’s an uncomfortable math to the notion of smaller fields, that many players who will get the chance to compete in this year’s elevated events will be on the outside looking in next season.

The no-cut, limited-field format harkens to the tour’s former World Golf Championship set-ups and may be seen as a concession from the tour toward the ideas generated by McIroy, Tiger Woods, and some of the tour’s marquee attractions during a series of meetings last year, most notably a players only gathering in Delaware last August. While a source confirmed as much to Golf Digest, the source also noted that the no-cut element had an appeal to fans and sponsors, who believe guaranteeing a player’s presence for four straight days would help with turnout.

Xander Schauffele, speaking to the media on Tuesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, acknowledged this selling point.

“We're trying to make the best product. To answer the cut question, I am always for a cut. Emotionally, I'm for a cut. There is an aspect of it, I would say, that's really entertaining for some. But at the end of the day a lot of people and a lot of kids like to come see the top players play in the world,” Schauffele said. “... If they got a baseball game on Saturday, Timmy can still come with his dad and watch Rory tee up on Sunday, no matter what happens. I think it's also an easier package to sell to the sponsors when you tell 'em that 20 of the top 20 players in the world are going to be there Thursday through Sunday. I think that's an easier package to sell when it comes to sort of what makes the best product.”

McIlroy echoed similar sentiments Wednesday. "We've always had no-cut events on this tour. If you think of like the four WGC's, you've got the three playoffs events, you've got the CJ Cup, the Zozo. So there's precedent there for no-cut events," he said. "The only reason no-cut events are a big deal is because LIV has come along."

"Is there maybe going to be a few more of them? Maybe. That's still TBD by the way. That's not been decided yet. But if we do go down that path, there's precedent there to argue for no-cut events. It keeps the stars there for four days. You ask Mastercard or whoever it is to pay $20 million for a golf event, they want to see the stars at the weekend. They want a guarantee that the stars are there. So if that's what needs to happen, then that's what happens."

Sources say the tour is still working through the 2024 schedule overall with the hope of announcing it to players shortly. The intent with the schedule, as mentioned in the Tuesday memo, is to spread out the designated events between non-designated events to "ensure there are no isolated week, creating a strong cadence for players and fans alike" to the overall schedule.

“Full-field events will become more consequential as they allow new and upcoming stars to rise to the top and give the membership an ability to play their way into the designated events,” the memo read.

The move will not affect the tour’s flagship event, the Players Championship, and the four men’s majors, which will continue to have their normal fields.

One designated event that will see a bigger field in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Monahan spelled out in the memo that the event will include tournament winners from the previous year along with the top 50 players from the previous year's FedEx Cup points list.