Eight PGA events in the 2024 calendar, in addition to the majors, the Players and the FedEx Cup play-offs, have been given “designated” status.
Those tournaments will feature fields of 70-78 players, including the top 50 from the previous season’s FedEx Cup standings, competing for elevated purses and will have no 36-hole cut to ensure the big names play in all four rounds.
LIV Golf, the Saudi-funded breakaway tour which also features no cuts, poked fun at the announcement on its official Twitter feed, while players Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter also made comments about the move. But McIlroy, a fierce critic of LIV Golf, told the PGA Tour’s official website about the changes: “I love it. Obviously I’ve been a part of it and been in a ton of discussions. I think it makes the Tour more competitive. I’m all about rewarding good play. I want to give everyone a fair shake at this, which I think this structure has done. There’s ways to play into it. It’s trying to get the top guys versus the hot guys, right? I think that creates a really compelling product.”
Five places in each of the eight events – which have yet to be finalised – will be available to players earning the most FedEx Cup points in non-designated tournaments. Northern Ireland’s McIlroy added: “You don’t have to wait an entire year for your good play to then get the opportunity. That opportunity presents itself straight away. You play well for two or three weeks, you’re in a designated event. You know then if you keep playing well you stay in them.”
LIV posted on its official Twitter account: “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Congratulations PGA Tour. Welcome to the future.” Poulter tweeted: “Sounds somewhat familiar… Now I can’t wait to hear all the back tracking of comments from the last 7 months.” Westwood added: “I’ve spent the last year reading how good full fields and cuts are!”
McIlroy’s comments came on the eve of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, featuring 44 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, which gets under way at Bay Hill, Orlando on Thursday. He is due on the first tee at 5.50pm GMT in a three-ball with Max Homa and Tyrrell Hatton with world number one John Rahm out 22 minutes earlier in company with Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa. Defending champion Scottie Scheffler goes out at 12.38pm, seven minutes before last weekend’s winner at Palm Beach Gardens, Chris Kirk.