LIV Golf, Westwood and Poulter fire shots at the PGA Tour's changes

‘Imitation is the greatest form of flattery’: LIV Golf taunts the PGA Tour over its reduced fields and no cuts for 2024 elevated events, while rebels Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter also take aim, claiming it ‘sounds very similar’ to the Saudi-backed series

  • The designated events were introduced as part of the fightback against LIV Golf
  • Fields will reportedly be reduced to between 70 and 78 players and cut removed
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LIV Golf has taunted the PGA Tour over its new radical changes, while defectors Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter also hit out at the proposals. 

The PGA Tour board approved changes to its designated events that will see field sizes reduced and cuts removed for its 2024 season on Tuesday night and commissioner Jay Monahan announced it in a letter to TOUR membership.

The elevated events, which were introduced last year as part of the fightback against LIV Golf, will see their fields reduced to between 70 and 78 players and the 36-hole cut removed.

It could be suggested that the changes appear similar to the PGA Tour’s rival LIV Golf’s format. The Saudi-backed series launched last year with smaller field sizes of 12 teams of four, 54-hole events, no cut and guaranteed prize money. 

And, the breakaway, along with its rebels Westwood and Poulter appeared to think so. 

LIV Golf taunted the PGA Tour over its new radical changes, claiming it had copied the series

Lee Westwood (left) and Ian Poulter (right) have hit out at the PGA Tour’s latest radical changes

The PGA Tour (pictured commissioner Jay Monahan) has approved changes that will see field sizes reduced and cuts removed for designated events for the 2024

LIV Golf’s official Twitter account appeared to mock the PGA Tour, shortly after the report of the proposals broke, hinting that it was copying the rebel series’ format, 

‘Imitation is the greatest form of flattery,’ the account posted. ‘Congratulations PGA Tour. Welcome to the future.’

Former Ryder Cup favorites Westwood and Poulter also appeared to take sly digs at the PGA Tour’s plans to overhaul its designated events. 

Taking to Twitter, Westwood fired off three tweets taking aim at the PGA Tour, beginning by posting, ‘I’ve spent the last year reading how good full fields and cuts are,’ followed by a side-eye emoji. 

The Englishman also sarcastically poked fun at the PGA Tour’s claim it is ‘growing the game’ before suggesting it had no intention of maintaining an alliance with its European counterpart, the DP World Tour, which is currently embroiled in a legal dispute of its own with LIV Golf.  

He posted: ‘So.. Do away with the WGC’s. Load the OWGR in your favour. Create 10 limited field events for just PGA tour members(like WGC’s). Add to that 4 majors, Players, FedEx cup. That’s a full schedule for a top player. That’s growing the game. What Strategic Alliance?’

Westwood has previously said he wasn’t convinced by the strategic alliance and that the PGA Tour has ‘always been bullies.’

‘I’m not convinced by the strategic alliance because I’ve seen how the PGA Tour has behaved over the years,’ he told the Telegraph last year. ‘There’s not been much ‘give.’ They have always been bullies.


Westwood fired off tweets, taking a sly dig at the overhaul and comparing them to LIV

‘I have been telling Keith [Pelley – DP World Tour CEO] and other members of his board how this is all going to go for 12 months now. I told him that getting into bed with the PGA Tour was a mistake.’

He wrapped up his mini rant by joking, ‘What positions are @SharkGregNorman & @PhilMickelson in the PIP???’ 

Poulter then chimed in, claiming the proposed changes bared striking similarities to LIV Golf’s format and suggested the PGA Tour should face the same criticism the rebel series has from the media. 

He quote tweeted one of his former Ryder Cup teammate’s post, writing: ‘Oh my my my…. When will the penny drop with so many of what’s actually happened here.

‘It really doesn’t take a [rocket scientist] to work out. And sounds very similar to another product that’s been spoken so badly about by Media and commentators. I’m all ears now. I’m waiting.’

The proposed changes will not apply to all the PGA Tour’s designated events, with the four majors, the Players Championship and the FedEx Cup playoff tournaments to be unaffected. 

The three FedExCup Playoffs events and the Sentry Tournament of Champions already were without a cut. The Sentry will now feature the previous year’s tournament winners as well as the top 50 in the previous year’s FedExCup.

‘These smaller, Designated event fields will not only deliver substantial, can’t-miss tournaments to our fans at important intervals throughout the season, but they will also enhance the quality of Full-Field events,’ Monahan said in the memo. 

Poulter claimed the proposed changes bared striking similarities to LIV Golf’s format

‘Together, this approach provides a schedule that is cohesive, compelling, consequential and with clarity for fans, players and sponsors alike.’ 

The elevated events were launched last year with the aim of increasing opportunities for the tour’s top players to consistently play against one another and introduced increased prize purses, with a minimum of $20 million in each event. 

As the events were hastily created in an effort to combat the immediate threat posed by LIV Golf’s arrival, no changes were made for the 2023 schedule. 

The changes present the opportunity to make more money outside of the four prestigious majors and could, in theory, allow the PGA Tour to keep the sport’s best players on the circuit.

LIV Golf has already lured away some of the game’s biggest names, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, with mega-money offers. 

But reducing field sizes could pose a risk to ran-and-file members who could see it as a denial of playing opportunities. 

However, the plan reportedly caters for opportunities for players to play their way into the designated tournaments and will not create an ecosystem more beneficial for its top stars. 

The fields will reportedly be comprised of the top 50 players who qualify for the BMW Championship during the previous season’s FedEx Cup playoffs, plus the top ten players not otherwise eligible on the current FedEx Cup points race. There will also be five places earned through performance in standard tournaments between the designated events. 

The rebel series has already managed to lure away big names, such as Dustin Johnson 

‘I love it,’ said reigning FedExCup champ Rory McIlroy. ‘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,’ he added. ‘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.

‘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 Golf also introduced a promotion and relegation aspect to its series for its second season, which kickstarted in Mayakoba in Mexico last weekend. 

The changes are believed to have stemmed from the players-only meeting led by Tiger Woods and McIlroy in Wilmington, Delaware last August. 

Proposals from the meeting, which featured 23 star players, are said to have called for smaller fields and no cuts. 

Reigning FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy claimed it made the tour ‘more competitive’

However, their criteria reportedly would have seen 80 percent of players remain in the elevated events from season to season, while the board’s proposed structure projects only 60 percent of those currently eligible for the designated events will remain so. 

In Netflix’s docuseries, ‘Full Swing’, released last month, McIlroy also revealed that players had been ‘blindsided’ by the initial designated events plans and their mandatory aspect when they were announced last summer. 

However, there will be no mandatory participation regulations for top performers in 2024, as was the case in 2023 via the Player Impact Standings.

There have already been three designated events this year—Jon Rahm won the Sentry Tournament of Champions and Genesis Invitational, and Scottie Scheffler was victorious at the WM Phoenix Open. 

A memo explaining the changes will reportedly be sent to Tour members later Wednesday.

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