The Honda Classic has battled for his spot on the PGA Tour schedule for years, most recently between two invitees and two weeks before the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
That in itself was difficult to overcome. Add to that the fact that many golfers evade the challenge of playing the Champion Course at PGA National – the third most difficult course on tour last season – and Honda’s field has been significantly affected in recent years.
Now that challenge of improving the field just got a whole lot harder thanks to the PGA Tour.
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Part of Commissioner Jay Monahan’s response Wednesday to the LIV Golf Series shutting down a handful of PGA Tour players was to push wallets at eight events in 2023. For Honda, two of them couldn’t have been worse.
The Genesis Invitational, held a week before Honda, and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, held the week after Honda, will both see their wallets rise to $20 million, up from $12 million. Already popular events – Tiger Woods hosts the Genesis and players continue to honor Palmer – both tournaments attract many of the top golfers each year.
Now expect those fields to get even stronger.
Add to that The Players, which remain in place two weeks after Honda, and golfers would be more likely to skip Honda. Few like playing for four consecutive weeks, and this gives them more reason to leave the week after Genesis and start their Florida swing in Orlando in Bay Hill and not Palm Beach Gardens.
The Players is already a favorite with fields every year as strong as any other major. The grant will be increased to $25 million, an increase of $5 million.
Honda Classic executive director Andrew George said the event is keeping an eye on the tour’s plans as it moves towards the 2023 event after completing its most successful year.
The tournament awarded a record $6.45 million in 2022 to more than 100 South Florida philanthropic organizations, breaking the previous record of $5.35 million set in 2020. Honda has surpassed $61.7 million in charitable contributions.
The tournament loses one local star it could always count on to boost the field and its profile. Brooks Koepka of Jupiter was passionate about helping his home tournament, playing every year he has been healthy since 2014.
However, Koepka will not be eligible to play Honda or any other PGA Tour event for the foreseeable future after defecting to LIV Golf on Wednesday. Anyone who plays in an LIV event has been banned by Monahan from participating in PGA Tour events.
Koepka’s highest finish at Honda was a tie for second with Rickie Fowler behind Keith Mitchell in 2019.
Jupiter’s Dustin Johnson, the top ranked player (No. 16) at LIV Golf, attempted to play against Honda three times in his career. He missed the cut twice and finished 46th. He is a combined 27-over par in his eight rounds and has not returned since 2015.
Charl Schwartzel of Palm Beach Gardens won the inaugural LIV event in London two weeks ago. Schwartzel, ranked number 123, has entered Honda nine times, including the past four years. His highest result is fifth in 2012.
The 2022 Honda, won by Sepp Straka, included three of the top 20 in the World Golf Rankings (none in the top 10) and 11 of the top 50.
By comparison, next week’s LIV Golf event played at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside of Portland, Oregon, includes three in the top 20 (none in the top 10) and eight in the top 50.
Other tournaments getting a wallet boost as the tour adjusts to prevent more players from jumping into the Saudi-backed league: WGC-Match Play and Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament both rose from $12 million to $20 million, and the St. Jude Championship and BMW Championship, both up to $20 million from $15 million. The WGC event is two weeks after The Players.
“Making substantial changes to our schedule gives us the best opportunity not only to generate revenue for our players, but also to improve our product and create a platform for continued growth going forward,” Monahan said Wednesday from the Travelers. Connecticut Championship.
From 2014 to 2018, Honda drew on average about half of the top 20 golfers in the world at the time and more than half in the top 10. The tournament has had one player in the top 10 for the past three years combined, Koepka, who played in the top 10. 2020 was No. 3.
The 2023 Honda is from February 23-26.
Tom D’Angelo is a journalist at The Palm Beach Post† You can reach him at [email protected]†
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: PGA Tour Raises Purses To Fight LIV Tour, Squeezing Honda Classic Out