🍻 Golf's party weekend

Plus: Payday for PGA Tour stars

Golf’s a party! At least this weekend.

The PGA Tour kicks off its wildest event of the year today at TPC Scottsdale, while LIV is in Las Vegas alongside the Super Bowl.

If you’ve been enjoying the Quick Nine, I’d love for you to share it with a friend — maybe someone you golf with regularly. We’re a small (but growing!) publication, so every reader truly counts.

Now, onto the news…

1. Leaked memo shows how PGA Tour players will soon become a whole lot richer — at least those at the top.

Rory McIlroy will almost certainly be one of the top paid players within the PGA Tour’s new equity program.

The recent $3 billion deal between the PGA Tour and Strategic Sports Group promised that players themselves would receive equity stakes in the Tour’s new for-profit endeavor.

  • On Wednesday, a leaked memo provided more details on how the PGA Tour plans to award those grants.

Essentially, there will be four groups:

Group 1: Includes 36 players, who will split $750 million ($20.8 million on average). 

Group 2: Includes 64 players, who will split $75 million ($1.2 million on average) 

Group 3: Includes 57 players, who will split $30 million ($526,000 on average) 

The PGA Tour will divide current players into these groups based on several criteria, including career achievements, recent achievements (past 3-5 years), and Player Impact Program results (which, in part, measures a golfer’s impact on the Tour’s annual revenue).

  • Of note: Grants within groups will likely vary. For instance, Rory McIlroy and Sam Burns will probably both be apart of Group 1. But, we should expect Rory’s equity deal to be worth much more than Burns’.

Meanwhile, Group 4 includes 36 players “who were instrumental to building the modern PGA Tour.” Think Fred Couples, Davis Love III, and maybe players as far back as Jack Nicklaus.

  • This group will split $75 million (around $2 million on average).

Moving forward: The memo mentioned that another $600 million will be set aside for additional grants in the years to come.

  • That money ($100 million over the next six years) could be awarded to players who received initial equity grants or to those who are new, up-and-comers.

My take: I understand that stars, like a Rory McIlroy, move the needle in ways that a middle-of-the-pack player, like a Tom Hoge, never will. (Sorry Tom! I had to pick someone.)

  • Still, it’s pretty shocking to see such a top heavy plan ($750 million in Group 1 vs. $75 million in Group 2) laid-out on paper.

  • I guess the top players who stayed are getting their “LIV contracts” after all.

I’m also excited to watch how this all unfolds when golfers learn their actual payouts (which is expected sometime after The Players Championship next month).

  • There’s almost certainly going to be some drama and players who think that they’re worth more than their grants reflect.

2. More news 🗞️

🐅 Tiger Woods will play his first event of 2024 next week in Los Angeles at the Genesis Invitational.

👀 Executives from McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group say Saudi Arabia has threatened to imprison employees for up 20 years if they cooperate with US lawmakers and provide information relating to a potential PGA Tour / LIV Golf merger. 

  • Meanwhile, the Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) said “we have made, and are continuing to make, significant efforts to facilitate the production of requested information.”

📺 Over 430,000 people tuned-in last Sunday to watch LIV’s final round in Mexico — almost 50% more viewers than the upstart circuit had last year at the same event.

  • Still, on Sunday, the PGA Tour pulled in 3x the number of viewers compared to LIV (1.2 million) while playing a re-run of Saturday’s round.

🧐 Scottie Scheffler and Justin Thomas said this week that LIV players should face some consequences should they return to the PGA Tour — a different stance from Rory McIlroy, who said recently he wants players reunited and doesn’t think punishment is realistic.

 Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland withdrew from the WM Phoenix Open field earlier this week — stirring conversations about more high-profile moves to LIV.

3. Schedule reminder

The famed 16th hole at the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course.

PGA Tour: WM Phoenix Open (aka “The People’s Open”) starts today.

LIV Golf: LIV Las Vegas also starts today (and ends Saturday).

4. The best 16th hole moment

Tiger’s ace in 1997 is probably the best. The place absolutely erupts — even without all the grandstands and hospitality towers. (Those didn’t come until 2011.)

But, the scenes from 2022 are probably the most memorable for me. Sam Ryder made an ace on Saturday and chaos ensued.

Carlos Ortiz backed it up with another hole-out on Sunday and similar chaos followed.

And, of course, there was the Harry Higgs and Joel Dahman tarps-off incident, which is something I’ll never forget or, be able to unsee.

@truelinkswear

This has to be one of the wildest moments in golf 😂 Joel Dahmen and Harry Higgs were paired up in Round 4 of the 2022 WM Phoenix Open and…... See more

That’s all for today! Enjoy the golf this weekend and hopefully you’ll be able to get out there as well. Talk soon! - Nick Bastone

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