Tour officials are expected to announce future plans for the high-roller events in the coming weeks, but a principal subject of internal debate has been whether the elevated status should rotate among tournaments. In addition to the tournament in Arizona, where the Thursday morning start was delayed because of frost (yes, really), this year’s designated events include the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, S.C.; the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn.; and the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C.
Tour officials, though, have made no public commitments that those events will keep their lofty status beyond 2023, and some players have suggested that they want to see an array of tournaments hosting the sport’s headliners.
“What I do hope is that some other tournaments that want to put up the resources to become elevated events might get the chance,” Jon Rahm said this week, despite his standing as one of the Phoenix Open’s pre-eminent cheerleaders. “That would be epic. I would love to see this rotating, not always being the same ones every year.”
Some players have also worried that tournaments regularly left out of any system, and potentially deprived of many tour stars, will struggle to draw the crowds and sponsorships that make them possible. And there is some anxiety that the PGA Tour is effectively becoming a tale of two circuits — one consistently loaded with A-list players and one routinely populated with everyone else — that periodically overlap.
Players said they would approach the elevated tournaments like any other. Rahm, who won the first designated event last month in Hawaii and entered this week’s tournament at No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking, suggested “nothing” had changed in his preparations.
“I want to perform well in every single tournament I go to,” he said, “no matter what it is.”
It is, after all, becoming a much bigger business — especially during Super Bowl week in Arizona, where, as Patrick Cantlay put it, it is “a party for everyone except us.”