Xander Schauffele: Mixed feelings on designated events, but changes will be made
The PGA Tour’s designated events model is still a work in progress.
The Tour is set to play its ninth of 17 designated events — which feature top players vying for lucrative purses — this week at the Wells Fargo Championship. However, the new structure has created multiple sides of the aisle.
“It’s a mixed feeling, to be completely transparent,” Xander Schauffele said Tuesday at the Travelers Championship’s media day. “Some guys are very happy with (the designated event’s format), some guys are not as happy with it feeling like there’s less opportunity.”
A majority of the designated events next year will have limited fields and no cut, leaving many of the Tour’s rank-and-file players on the outside looking in.
That, though, excites Nathan Grube, the Travelers Championship’s tournament director. The Connecticut Tour staple received designated status this year, and on Wednesday, Tour commissioner Jay Monahan revealed this year’s designated tournaments “will be in those positions long-term.”
Grube confirmed Tuesday that the current designated events are likely “not going to be rotating,” and though the Travelers might not boast a full field in 2024, he’s bullish on the new format moving forward.
“If it does become a no-cut, I think that would be amazing,” he said. “You could have four days where you know you’re going to see the top players in the world.”
But for the players who don’t share the same sentiment as Grube, Schauffele has expressed to them that it’s best for the Tour.
“The guys I’ve talked to that don’t seem to be super happy, I sort of let them know that, one, we are trying to create the best package possible moving forward to sort of hold the tour together,” he said.
But the game’s top stars have criticism, too. As players were only allowed to opt out of one designated event this season, many have been forced to play jam-packed schedules. Jon Rahm said ahead of his Mexico Open title defense that he would have liked more downtime after winning the Masters.
Changes, though, are coming.
“We’ve been made aware that this year will sort of be the year to grind and kind of work through the change,” Schauffele said. “Next year the schedule ... it should be a little bit more fluid, I would say, allowing us to play in sort of the events we want to play away from these elevated events.
“I would say just sort of stacking them correctly where the travel isn’t so cross-country all the time and then allowing us to play our hometown events or the events we really like enjoying to play at year in, year out. This year is a bit of a grind, but for the most part it should get better.”
Monahan disclosed Wednesday that the goal for the new schedule, which will be released later this year, is to have two to four non-designated events wedged between the elevated stops.
However, the 2024 model also might not be permanent.
“If things aren’t right or don’t feel right or competition isn’t right moving forward, the tour is willing to change and make it better,” Schauffele said. “That’s sort of where I feel the most comfortable is that the tour is ever-evolving trying to make sure everyone is taken care of, and we are putting the best package forward, yet taking care of our membership. ... Next year will be sort of a new look. We’ll have to see how it goes. If adjustments need to be made, they’ll be made.”