CROMWELL, Conn. — Big announcements about the future of professional golf usually come from places like St. Andrews, Scotland, home of the R&A and Old Course or Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where the PGA Tour is headquartered . Far Hills, New Jersey, home of the United States Golf Association, has also made headlines over the years.
But on Wednesday, all eyes will be on Cromwell, Connecticut, located 10 miles south of Hartford with a population of around 14,000. Home of this week’s TPC River Highlands and Travelers Championship, Cromwell will be where PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan will hold one of the most important press conferences in recent golf history.
The PGA Tour has indefinitely suspended 17 members who played in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series event in London two weeks ago, including World Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson, two-time Major winner Dustin Johnson and 11 times winner of the PGA Tour and Sergio Garcia, champion of the Masters 2017.
On Tuesday, four-time major winner and former world No. 1 player Brooks Koepka changed information on his social media accounts and removed references to the PGA Tour. At the same time, reports circulated that Koepka, who is currently ranked No. 19 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), was joining the LIV series.
Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, who is currently ranked No. 20 in the world, was officially welcomed by LIV on Tuesday, a week after 2020 US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau and 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed announced that they were joining the tour on a breakaway.
While that was happening, more than 100 PGA Tour players attended a meeting Tuesday morning where Monahan reportedly outlined a framework for future changes to the tour schedule. After the meeting, there were rumors of the addition of big-money, no-cut events for elite players starting in 2023.
Monahan also took part in a meeting of the PGA Tour board of directors on Tuesday afternoon, where more details and possible changes in the operation of the PGA Tour were undoubtedly on the agenda.
“We’re in a weird time right now,” said Harris English, who is defending her title this week at the Travelers Championship. “I am convinced that they are doing everything they can in the best interests of the players, and we have to let them work.”
Which brings us back to the significance of Jay Monahan’s press conference Wednesday at 1 p.m. EST. A year ago, a rival golf tour backed by Saudi Arabian money was moot, but today it’s here, and Monahan has acknowledged it’s a threat.
Players like defending FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay also see the exodus of talent from the PGA Tour to the LIV Series as a threat.
“A lot of us are hyper-competitive here, and maybe that’s what pushed us to be as good as we are,” Cantlay said. “So whenever there’s a potential rift in the sport, I don’t think it’s good for the sport. You don’t see it in any of the other major sports. Usually all the talent is on a circuit or a league. So, yeah, I think that’s definitely a concern.”
What Monahan and the PGA Tour hope to do on Wednesday is deter more stars from jumping ship and joining Greg Norman and the LIV series. It must also state very clearly what the consequences will be for those who do so. At the same time, it’s clear that new incentives and events for the game’s top players need to be announced, while at the same time, grassroots PGA Tour players need to maintain competitive opportunities. With the LIV series paying golfers a fixed fee plus the money they earn for their performance on the course, there is a growing sense that the PGA Tour needs to provide a safety net for its players, especially the pros. who have trouble playing.
“You’ve got a lot of guys playing on the PGA Tour who lose money if they don’t have a good year,” English said. He went on to say, “For me, being on the PGA Tour, you can’t lose money.”
The LIV series has asked for world ranking points to be awarded to players who participate in its events, and Monahan has a seat on the eight-person OWGR board, but we’re unlikely to get any. news on that front Wednesday. This discussion will unfold over months and potentially years.
Those aren’t the things Jay Monahan or the Travelers Championship wanted to discuss on the eve of Connecticut’s biggest sporting event this year. But as Harris English said, we’re in a weird time.