PGA Tour offered $500K up front; 8 rookies failed to reach that mark

PGA Tour offered $500K up front; 8 rookies failed to reach that mark
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The PGA Tour approved a new program this season to make sure rookies and most Korn Ferry Tour graduates get $500,000 up front. That money would be recouped from their earnings to make sure no one lost any money.

Tour officials are still calculating the “Earnings Assurance Program,” although only eight of the 27 rookies who finished a full season (15 events or more) failed to reach $500,000. All but one of them are back in Q-School this week.

How much that cost the Tour is still to be determined. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan predicted $2 million to $3 million — money spent making up the difference if players didn’t reach $500,000 — though that’s what is still being computed.

Rookies had the option of getting the money up front. But the program was for every fully exempt player, which might have come in handy for Kevin Kisner in a strange year. He was torn between bad play and wanting to be at home with three young children during the summer when he stopped playing in June.

Kisner made $335,671 this year, which presumably means a check for $164,329 — except for the fine print. The program was designed to fund “any gap between actual comprehensive earnings” and the $500,000.

This is where the long season (September 2022 through November 2023 to get back onto a calendar schedule) hurt Kisner. Because the “comprehensive” earnings include his stipend from the Presidents Cup — $250,000 from his Presidents Cup stipend in 2022, and his $101,000 for finishing 19th in the 20-man field at the Hero World Challenge in December 2022.

Comprehensive earnings also include what was described as non-cash items such as day care services and health benefits.

On earnings alone, the gap for the fully exempt players came out to roughly $1.9 million. Michael Gligic of Canada, who got his card back for 2022-23 through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, made only $169,449 in 32 starts and made only eight cuts. He would be owed $330,551, less depending on whatever comprehensive earnings he also received.

Sixteen of the 27 rookies at the start of the season — Phillip Knowles played only nine events before injury — finished among the top 125 to keep their cards. Eric Cole led the way with nearly $5.5 million. Seven other players earned $2 million or more.

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