PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan told reporters Wednesday prize money at eight regular season tournaments will be increased, an announcement that comes on the heels of several big-name golfers leaving the tour for the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.
“Let me be clear, I am not naïve. If this is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can’t compete,” Monahan said at a news conference. “The PGA Tour, an American institution, can’t compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in an attempt to buy the game of golf.”
During the commissioner’s news conference, the LIV Golf series announced former world No. 1 Brooks Koepka would be joining the venture.
LIV Golf is organized by LIV Golf Investments and backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the man who a US intelligence report named as responsible for approving the operation that led to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman has denied involvement in Khashoggi’s killing.
Earlier this month, Monahan announced that all golfers playing in the breakaway series will no longer be eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournaments.
Monahan said the Tour welcomes “good, healthy” competition but said the new tour is an “irrational threat” and is not concerned with the “true growth” of the game.
Until now, the various golf tours and organizations have worked together, he said.
“But when someone attempts to buy the sport, dismantle the institutions that are intrinsically invested in its growth and focused only on a personal priority, that partnership evaporates and instead we end up with one person, one entity using endless amounts of money to direct employees, not members or partners, toward their personal goal,” Monahan said. “Which may or may not change tomorrow or the next day. I doubt that’s the vision any one of us have the for the game.”
In a memo to players obtained by CNN Monahan wrote that the Sentry Tournament of Champions, The Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Players Championship, WGC - Dell Technologies, Memorial Tournament, FedEx St. Jude Championship and BMW Championship would have millions added to their prize money, including several that will see 67% more in the purses.
Monahan also said the PGA Tour will create a series of up to three international events that will feature a limited-field in a no-cut format. The international events will take place after the conclusion of the fall schedule and will include the top 50 players from the final FedEx Cup points list and the best performers in the fall.
He revealed the PGA Tour will return to a calendar year schedule culminating with the FedEx Cup playoffs, which will feature a smaller field of 70 players instead of the usual 125, followed by fall events that will determine the top 125 players.
The first full season of the new changes will begin in the 2024 calendar year.
Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world, said he doesn’t think there is any amount of money that will change his mind about playing on the PGA Tour.
“The money that we have on the PGA Tour, I never dreamed of playing for this much money as I do now,” he said. “I mean, I can’t, I don’t know, I don’t know how much money I’ve made this year, but it’s definitely more than I deserve for whacking a little white golf ball around.”
Scheffler said he wasn’t going to tell others what they should do, but in the past, doing things based on the money involved hadn’t worked out well for him.
Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson are among those who played in the first LIV Golf event, while other major winners Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel also participated.
There are seven LIV events remaining this year, including an event in Portland that begins June 30 and a tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with the first round on July 29.
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Wayne Sterling, Ben Morse and Aimee Lewis contributed to this report.