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Monday, February 26, 2024

PGA Tour’s $930M of Equity Payouts: Top Stars Will Benefit the Most

  • The PGA Tour will distribute $930 million of equity to 193 players.
  • Strategic Sports Group is investing an initial $1.5B in PGA Tour Enterprises.
Scottie Scheffler
Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

PGA Tour players have received a memo detailing how an initial $930 million of equity from new investors will be distributed. 

Last week, Strategic Sports Group—a consortium of professional sports teams owners including the Atlanta Falcons’ Arthur Blank and Boston Red Sox’ John Henry—completed a deal to inject up to $3 billion into the newly formed PGA Tour Enterprises, with an initial investment believed to be around $1.5 billion. All indications are that the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia has the opportunity to strike a deal to invest another $3 billion alongside SSG.

According to the memo, which has been reported by multiple outlets, the equity will start being distributed in March to 193 players divided into four groups—and it’s top heavy. PGA Tour members are the ones eligible, meaning those now playing on LIV Golf won’t get anything, even if they recently had success on the PGA Tour. Here’s how things shake out:

  • Group 1: $750 million (80% of the total amount) to 36 players based on performance throughout their career and the last five years, as well as Player Impact Program results. Some players will likely receive more than others. This will be for top stars like Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, and of course Tiger Woods. It will also be where LIV defectors like Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, and Dustin Johnson will miss out the most.
  • Group 2: $75 million to 64 players based on performance from the last three years. This is where the lines start to blur, but recent up-and-comers like Sam Burns and Cameron Young could benefit most here, with young players who left for LIV like Joaquin Niemann missing out.
  • Group 3: $30 million to 57 players that have earned certain fully exempt PGA Tour status categories. This could mean golfers who play on the PGA Tour each year but aren’t consistently in the top 100 of the world rankings.
  • Group 4: $75 million to 36 players who were instrumental in building the modern PGA Tour, based on career performance. Former major champions now taking it easy on the senior tour like Ernie Els and David Duval could cash in here. And the big name who will miss out: Phil Mickelson.

Additionally, a further $600 million will be doled out via recurring grants from 2025 to ’30. The PGA Tour will announce more details in the coming weeks.

Good, Good?

The equity, in a way, is a make-good for players who stayed loyal to the PGA Tour amid huge contract offers from LIV. But some PGA Tour members still don’t think they’ll be even with LIV defectors, if and when a deal is struck with the PIF.

“There should be a pathway back for them,” No. 1–ranked Scheffler said this week ahead of the WM Phoenix Open. “But they definitely shouldn’t be able to come back without any contribution to the tour.” That echoes a sentiment expressed by Justin Thomas: “There’s a handful of players on LIV that would make the tour a better place, but I’m definitely not in the agreement that they should just be able to come back that easily.”

Those opinions are in stark contrast to McIlroy, who recently shifted his stance and said he doesn’t think there should be any punishment for LIV players returning.

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