The Players aims to continue PGA Tour’s scorching start to 2023 with changes proving to be raving success

With the exception of Tiger Woods winning five times, it’s hard to imagine a better start to a new era for the PGA Tour than what the league has experienced so far in 2023.

With the Players Championship this week being the de facto summit of the vast Tour, it’s worth looking back at everything that’s happened in the first two months of the season.

The year began with Collin Morikawa missing his best opportunity to win for the first time since the 2021 Open. John Rahm took part in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, then it looked like he could have everything in sight. He won the American Express and nearly won the Torrey Pines. Instead, Max Homa lifted the Farmers Insurance Open trophy.

Ram, now the world’s No. 1 player, took on Scotty Scheffler but ended up losing to the defending champion at the WM Phoenix Open a week before winning the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera in the best field of the year to date. Two weeks later, Scheffler almost got his second win of the year over Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Victor Hovland, but they all lost to underdog Kurt Kitayama at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Have I already got your attention?

“Competitiveness: We were very active in the first two months of the year,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. “Understandably, PGA Tour stars were inspired by the opportunity to compete head-to-head more regularly on some of golf’s biggest stages. Over the past month, we have seen the top positions in the official World Golf Ranking change hands. for weeks on end from Rory to Scotty and John, who is now at the top.”

The Netflix documentary “Full Swing” debuted in the middle of it all and was such a success that on Tuesday, while Monahan and the tour stars were talking to the media at TPC Sawgrass, the streaming service announced that “Full Swing” had been renewed for a second season. .

All this can hardly be called otherwise than a wild success.

Everything goes according to plan. The Tour has committed its best players to this year’s major events. And while the fields in Phoenix, the Riviera and Bay Hill were clearly no different from 2022 and previous years, these weeks – even if only because they were marked as the biggest weeks – had a lot of seriousness for them.

“This is what the fans want and this is what the fans have been asking for,” Monahan added. “Here’s the data point: Consider the last five years of the PGA Tour. What percentage of the top 10, top 20, top 30 players in the world compete on average against each other in a major championship? Answer: more than 95%. What about the same top players competing together on the remaining PGA Tour events? Answer: less than 40%. Let me repeat: less than 40%.”

Interestingly – and perhaps a digression – the Tour departs from certain events that are mandatory for top players; it is also reducing field sizes and canceling cutbacks at several such tournaments in 2024. Could this year be a special, one-off year for fans of the best and most contextualized golf in the world?

Of course it can. The 2024 events may or may not have the weight they have in 2023, given the lack of cuts and the 70-80 players that will be playing them. This remains to be seen.

There are many hopes for the future of the PGA Tour. Limiting the number of entries (pushing some players to all other tournaments, which is what the sponsors want) and removing cutbacks (fans and sponsors want to see the biggest names on the weekend) makes sense overall, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most desirable outcome. for the fans.

What remains to be seen is whether this season will be great. It happened before. As it turns out, gathering all the best players on historic venues with plenty of context makes a difference to the product, and the Tour did just that in 2023.

The players, coincidentally, used to be only stop at the Tour where it happened. Now this is one of many.

So while this week’s event may seem less unique than usual, it actually represents a stronger future for the PGA Tour, with the best players in the world playing in the best tournaments. Next to the Players every few weeks.

It is a testament to the importance of this tournament and a vision for the future that generates great optimism.


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