While the potential super-league concept remains a mystery, one aspect of the start-up rival to the PGA Tour is already having an impact at the game’s highest levels.
Whether the Saudi-backed disrupter tour will be able to attract the game’s stars remains to be seen. But the competition of a potential rival has prompted conversations between top players and the PGA Tour, and an understanding that some things need to change when it comes to the game’s best.
“For me to come out here and say that I hold the same weight as Tiger Woods or I hold the same weight as Phil Mickelson, that’s just not realistic,” Justin Thomas said Wednesday in Mexico, site of this week’s PGA Tour event. “Guys should be compensated for that … I think that was something that maybe wasn’t addressed as much in the past, but is a lot now.”
Specifically, Thomas referenced the new Player Impact Program – a $40 million program that uses different social and traditional media measurements to reward the circuit’s most-popular players – and purse increases, like The Players Championship going to $20 million starting next year.
The super-league concept, which will be led by Greg Norman and at least partially funded by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, remains shrouded in secrecy but the often-reported concept is to pay the game’s top players enormous amounts of guaranteed money to compete in limited-field events around the globe.
Whatever emerges, the immediate impact, at least for players like Thomas, is a more open dialogue between the circuit and its stars.
“The main thing that’s come out of this is, look, we can better our product and we can get better because of stuff like this, we can learn from it,” Thomas said. “My first couple years I felt like I didn’t necessarily have the place or the voice to go to a [Tour commissioner] Jay Monahan to say how I feel about what things are going on in the Tour, when in reality, it sounds disrespectful to say, but they work for us.”