It’s already been a good week for Jason Day and Rickie Fowler before they even tried their luck at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.
Both were outside the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings with just two tournaments remaining in the PGA Tour regular season, leaving them in danger of missing the playoffs. They’re exempt until at least next season, so a lot of it would be a matter of pride, especially for Day. Former world No. 1, he has never been ineligible for the FedEx Cup qualifiers.
But then a memo arrived overnight regarding the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, a memo that didn’t include phrases like “strength for good” and “unique energy.”
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan informed players that their eligibility would not be affected by those who compete in LIV Golf events with their 48 players and $25 million in prize money.
The PGA Tour now has a separate “FedEx Cup Playoffs and Eligibility Points” list to reflect this.
Eight players from the top 125 in the FedEx Cup rankings have played in the LIV Golf Series and have been suspended. Two others in the top 125, Jason Kokrak and Charles Howell III, have signed up and will play at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey, this week.
The day was No. 127 Sunday. It was at No. 119 on Tuesday. Fowler has moved from No. 132 to No. 124. They will move up two more places when Kokrak and Howell put a ball in play at 1:15 p.m. Friday (still to be determined is what hole in the shotgun start hunting) and are suspended.
Monahan said the separate listing ensures “any suspended player will not negatively impact bonus money distributions.”
As if the FedEx Cup points system wasn’t already difficult, there are now two lists.
The “Official” FedEx Cup Ranking still includes suspended players, from Talor Gooch (#20) to Kokrak (#41) to Brooks Koepka (#102). They still receive the FedEx Cup bonus money, which is paid out up to 150th place.
Gooch would currently be able to get $640,000, half of which is deferred. It might seem like currency to him. Gooch got more for finishing seventh, two strokes behind Jinchiro Kozuma, at the LIV Golf Invitational-Portland three weeks ago.
The new roster, approved by the board, pays out a bonus equal to the amount a player would have earned had suspended players’ points not counted.
Both lists are missing players who quit, including Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Louis Oosthuizen and Hudson Swafford.
It’s another reminder of how the disturbances never, and probably won’t, stop, given so much money Greg Norman has at his disposal. Based on various reports, LIV Golf has already lost around $1 billion in signing bonuses.
There are still no top 15 players in the world.
This can still change, of course.
Bedminster ranks as the biggest show to date, staged at the course owned by former President Donald Trump, who last week said on his social media platform, Truth Social, that anyone sticking with “the very disloyal PGA” will miss out on the money. He predicted that the two circuits would eventually merge.
That seems unlikely as long as Norman is running the show. He keeps throwing around terms like “free agents” while ignoring that most players have signed contracts. Graeme McDowell had to skip the Irish Open as it was the same week as a LIV event.
Meanwhile, every month brings twice as many rumors as real defectors.
The original roster was announced nine days after the PGA Championship. Brooks Koepka joined the team two days after the US Open. Three days after the British Open, the latest batch was highlighted by Henrik Stenson, who was stripped of his Ryder Cup captaincy.
So much for all the lingering talk about major championships.
The first LIV Golf event in the US took place during a soft part of the PGA Tour schedule, and Norman tweeted a list showing how the field outside of Portland, Oregon had more power than the Irish Open and the John Deere Classic.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic seemed like another easy target – two weeks after the British Open, two weeks before the start of the FedEx Cup qualifiers – except Detroit is more than solid. Patrick Cantlay (#4) leads five players among the top 20 in the world.
Bedminster has one top-20 (Dustin Johnson) and four top-25.
Under the new world ranking system that will begin next month, the Detroit winner would get 45 world ranking points, compared to 17 for the LIV Golf event. This assumes that LIV Golf will one day be approved by the official World Golf Rankings Board, which could take a year.
The curious decision facing the PGA Tour now is what to do with who’s next.
LIV Golf won’t play again until Sept. 2 away from Boston, a week after the FedEx Cup ended. Currently, a player is not suspended until they put a ball into play during a LIV event. This would indicate that such a player could compete for the $18 million FedEx Cup top prize and then move on to LIV, which will have five more tournaments this year.
Still on the horizon is the Presidents Cup and the type of team the international team can field.
With so much Saudi money behind it, LIV Golf isn’t going anywhere in a hurry.
Neither are disturbances.
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