The PGA Tour will remove cut in elevated events next year. Is it the right call?
LIV and let live?
Not in the professional golf world. At least not anymore.
After decades of relative peace, sportsmanship and a consistent product that fans understood and came to love, a Chernobyl-like upheaval has rocked the PGA Tour over the past 13 months.
While we don't know what will come of the bizarre and unexplained agreement with LIV Golf, we do know that the 2024 PGA Tour schedule will look like something we've never seen before.
In a copycat move to LIV's no-cut policy, the Tour will feature seven or eight "elevated events" that don't send a single golfer home early.
Some, like Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele, love it. Others, like Wheaton's Kevin Streelman, are diametrically opposed.
"Emotionally, I'm for a cut," Schauffele said. "There is an aspect of it that's really entertaining for some. But at the end of the day a lot of people like to come see the top players play in the world. ...
"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."
Streelman countered by saying: "Cuts are an integral part of professional golf. Our fans appreciate there's no handouts in our sport. ... That's why the PGA Tour has shown itself as a better product than LIV and will continue to, and that's what makes us better."
Now that we've hit mid-July, the pressure to qualify for these elevated events -- which feature massive purses -- is really heating up.
First, you've got to qualify for the 70-man FedEx Cup playoffs. Then comes the most important tournament of the season: The St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind from August 10-13 in Memphis, Tennessee. The top 50 who advance to the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club are automatically in next year's elevated events.
The BMW, which held its media day Tuesday, will be played from August 17-20. It is the seventh time the tournament has been held at Olympia Fields.
Streelman's biggest beef with the new system boils down to this: While it's one thing to reduce field sizes from 70 to 50 to 30 during the FedEx Cup playoffs, it's quite another to exempt 50 players to so many lucrative tournaments.
"Number 51 next year is at a big disadvantage to number 50," said Streelman, who is 116th in the FedEx Cup standings. "And it stinks because I've been that 50 and I've been that 51 multiple times over the last 20 years. There's no difference in that golfer. It's literally one putt throughout the year.
"It's OK for the FedEx Cup. That's what makes it exciting. But to prolong that bonus into a 12-month event, it's like, 'Holy Guacamole.'"
Now, to be clear, there are ways for those outside the top 50 to qualify for the elevated events. The field of 70-80 will be filled out by:
• The top 10 players who are on next year's FedEx Cup point list not already eligible.
• Five players who earn spots through the most recent designated events. (The parameters for these spots has not been made clear).
• Current PGA Tour winners.
• The top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
• Four sponsor exemptions restricted to Tour members.
"There are ways to play into it," McIlroy said. "It's trying to get the top guys versus the hot guys, right? That creates a really compelling product. ...
"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."
It sounds OK in theory.
But remember: Most tournament fields feature 156 or so players. So that leaves dozens sitting at home or perhaps going overseas. Also, the field strength of lesser events will only diminish further.
"We don't play every week so if you're in all those big ones you prioritize those," Streelman said. "So you won't play in the other ones -- John Deere, Sony, Tampa. ... You're not having the best 120 players competing in a city, in a tournament. Nowadays any of 120, 140 guys can win any tournament. That wasn't case 20-30 years ago.
"What we have is competition. It's as clear as day right now with the caliber of these tournaments that we've seen. I just want us to spotlight that.
"Our fans believe in that and they love it -- and I do. I just know how great the product is and how great these guys are. I want us all to have a fair chance."
Western Open/BMW facts and figuresTournament sites since 1974:Butler National 1974-1990
Cog Hill No. 4 1991-2007; 2009-11
Bellerive CC 2008
Crooked Stick GC 2012, '16
Conway Farms 2013, '15, '17
Cherry Hills CC 2014
Aronimink GC 2018
Medinah CC 2019
Olympia Fields North 2020, '23
Caves Valley GC 2021
Wilmington CC 2022
Winners since 2010Year Winner, score
2010 Dustin Johnson (-9)
2011 Justin Rose (-13)
2012 Rory McIlroy (-20)
2013 Zach Johnson (-16)
2014 Billy Horschel (-14)
2015 Jason Day (-22)
2016 Dustin Johnson (-23)
2017 Marc Leishman (-23)
2018 Keegan Bradley (-20)
2019 Justin Thomas (-25)
2020 Jon Rahm (-4)
2021 Parick Cantlay (-27)
2022 Patrick Cantlay (-14)
Olympia Fields stats:Par: 70; Yardage: 7,353
Women's PGA 2017
U.S. Amateur 2015
U.S. Senior Open 1997
PGA Championship 1925, '61
U.S. Open 1928, 2003
Western Open 1920, 1927, 1933, 1968, 1971