Ever the optimist, Hollis Cavner and the 3M Open received a welcomed boost Tuesday morning from the PGA Tour some 10 months ahead of the inaugural event at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine.
The Tour announced changes to the regular season and playoffs points scoring structure. The former is a monetary agreement, paying the top FedEx Cup points earner during the regular season $2 million before the start of the playoffs. No. 2 in the rankings will earn $1.5 million and so on, down to a $500,000 bonus to the player finishing the regular season No. 10 on the points list.
The change will entice golfers to enter more events to try and earn points. And the 3M Open, scheduled for July 4-7 in Blaine, will be one of the last five chances for Tour players to earn FedEx Cup points in a full-field event. The following week’s event, the John Deere Classic, is a week before the British Open, so many top golfers skip the Illinois event. There’s a World Golf Championships event in Memphis on July 25-28 and then the final regular-season PGA Tour event, the Wyndham Championship on Aug. 1-4 in North Carolina.
The playoffs next season will be reduced from four events to three and begin with The Northern Trust on Aug. 8 at Liberty National in New Jersey.
“We feel like we’re going to have a great field anyway, but anytime they put more money out there to entice the guys to play more events it’s good for everybody and that’s of course not going to hurt us,” said Cavner, the 3M Open executive director.
Cavner spent time at last month’s Northern Trust as a recruiting trip, already gauging interest from the Tour’s top players about holiday plans next summer.
“Most of the guys will do their [next year] schedules in like November or December,” Cavner said. “So we’ve been out, and we’re happy with what we’ve heard. We’re going to stay aggressive all winter long.”
The Tour’s change to the playoffs points scoring structure is significant. Instead of points resetting at the season-ending Tour Championship as in years past, beginning next year there will be a stroke-based bonus system. The player with the No. 1 ranking heading into the final event will begin Round 1 at 10-under par. The next four players will start at 8-under through 5-under, respectively. The next five will begin at 4-under, regressing by one stroke per five players until those ranked Nos. 26-30 start at even par.
With the implementation of this change, the player with the lowest total score will be the FedExCup Champion and credited with an official victory.
The prize pool for the playoffs increased to $60 million, with the winner of the FedEx Cup now receiving a $15 million annuity.