No Laying Up’s podcast that dropped today is two hours devoted to LIV and the new PGA Tour tournament details. Max Homa is on the entire episode and it’s fantastic.
Totally agree - listened to the whole thing on a long drive this afternoon.
The thing that particularly stood out to me from the podcast (not counting the many obvious points which were so well stated) was the quote that Rory had about the PGA Tour maybe pursuing an "ATP-like model", in such a way that the NLU guys implied that he wouldn't have referenced the ATP mindlessly like that without it meaning something. In professional tennis, you don't have a FedEx Cup in the US and a Race to Dubai in Europe; you also don't have a closed Korn Ferry Tour with its own system. Instead, you have one set of rankings, with points accumulated from events at different levels around the world. The differences are subtle in many ways, but in one or two ways they're massively important. Imagine a central ranking system which would allow players to enter events on any tour they wish, with precedence given simply to a player's current ranking. (Which is what happens in tennis.) Korn Ferry players could play in PGA Tour events without jeopardizing their Korn Ferry ranking and status - quite the opposite, as they'd be able to gain more points from doing well in PGA Tour events. Also, PGA Tour players could drop down to Korn Ferry events or go to Europe, much as tennis players in need of rehab spells or just looking to find a bit of form might do, and earn meaningful ranking points and money. Bringing all of the points systems under one umbrella would also encourage more cross-Atlantic pollination in both directions - good European (and Asian/African/South American) players could come to the USA sooner, American players could more easily try to pick up ranking points at European events, and so on.
Now, imagine that as a part of bringing everything under one umbrella, the PGA Tour convinces the majors not to use the OWGR as their qualification criteria going forward - and instead to use the new global rankings created by the Tour (and the European Tour, etc.). Boom - that cuts the legs out from under the LIV players who want to play in the majors. LIV can apply for and get OWGR points status, but what would that mean if the majors no longer care about OWGR points? This would almost certainly bring about antitrust suits from LIV, but a) can you sue a global organization for antitrust violations? and b) I suspect this new ranking system could be created in such a way that it can be easily demonstrated how lower-level players (Korn Ferry, etc.) will actually have significantly increased opportunities to excel because of it. Again, tennis: a hot young tennis player doesn't have to spend a whole season on the Korn Ferry Tour or get a "battlefield promotion" to play with the big boys. He or she just has to win enough points to reach ranking thresholds that get him or her into the next level of events - it's all based upon performance, not membership. And something akin to the "top 14" system on the ATP Tour, whereby only your best 14 results in a rolling 12-month calendar period count toward your world ranking, would absolutely appeal to top players who wouldn't feel compelled to chase ranking points all around the world, all the time. (That's something that Max talked about on the podcast a lot, particularly in the context of needing to play in the Fall Series to make sure you weren't way behind in FedEx points when January rolled around.)
This new PGA Tour model wouldn't and shouldn't look entirely like tennis, of course; I think there would still be separate Tours as such, and there wouldn't be clear lines so that the PGA Tour is the Premier League, the European Tour is the second division, the Korn Ferry Tour the third division and so on. Things would be more fluid than that. But this model feels sustainable to me. It would in theory get big players around the world together more often for big events. Some of those big events could be global - imagine the BMW at Wentworth or the Australian Open (etc.) attracting dozens of American stars, like the PGA Tour is trying to do with the Scottish Open now, because earning points in those events would totally count toward the (new version of the) FedEx Cup standings. And it does feel like the majors would want to play ball with this kind of model as well; the statements by the USGA and R&A about not changing their qualification requirements for this year's US and British Opens seem to be much more about not wanting to disenfranchise golfers who had already qualified in 2022 than making sure the requirements would be identical in 2023 and beyond. This model would I think make LIV suddenly look much, much less attractive to anyone not solely in it for the money.