Eighty gamers will tee it up on the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am this week, making it the smallest, but strongest area in match historical past.
Ten of the highest 11 gamers on this planet will compete for a $20 million purse. The winner will obtain not solely $3.6 million but in addition 700 FedEx Cup factors.
This elusive area consists of the highest 50 finishers from final 12 months’s FedEx Cup standings, those that completed between 51st and sixtieth through the FedEx Cup Fall, the highest participant from the Race to Dubai standings not in any other case exempt—Nicolai Højgaard, and gamers inside the highest 30 of the Official World Golf Rankings not in any other case exempt.
Justin Thomas acquired an invitation this week, due to that final stipulation.
It additionally consists of 5 gamers from the Aon Swing 5, a brand new class applied for the 2024 season. This consists of the highest 5 FedExCup factors earners from the final three Full-Discipline Occasions: the Sony Open in Hawaii, The American Express, and the Farmers Insurance Open, who will not be in any other case exempt.
Matthieu Pavon, Grayson Murray, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Kevin Yu, and Stephan Jaeger comprise the preliminary Aon Swing 5 and thus gained entry into the AT&T Pebble Seaside Professional-Am.
All 4 gamers function Participant Administrators on the PGA Tour Policy Board. They’ve had to assist information the tour by way of negotiations with the Strategic Sports Group (SSG) and the Saudi Public Funding Fund (PIF) over the previous few months.
However the actuality is that three of those 4 gamers don’t have any enterprise being on this elevated match.
Therefore, some gamers have expressed anger about Malnati’s, McNealy’s, and Simpson’s inclusion this week.
“It looks like collusion, a political sport that ought to by no means occur on Tour,” one veteran player mentioned to Golfweek. “It’s very shady should you ask me.”
Added one other to Golfweek: “It doesn’t go the scent take a look at. The cool factor about sports activities is it was the outlet the place every thing was decided on the sphere or courtroom. Golf has all the time been the final word meritocracy.”
Of the 4 gamers who acquired sponsor exemptions, solely Scott is ranked throughout the high 100 of the Official World Golf Rankings. The 2013 Masters champion is presently ranked 51st on this planet, and recorded 5 top-10s a season in the past.
Scott missed out on the 2023 FedEx Cup playoffs not as a result of he performed poorly, however as a result of he didn’t play sufficient. He made 15-of-17 cuts on tour final 12 months. Lately, the 43-year-old Aussie has prioritized taking part in all over the world as a substitute of taking part in solely on the PGA Tour.
In the meantime, the opposite three gamers don’t come near sniffing the highest 100.
McNealy is presently 197th on this planet, whereas Simpson and Malnati are 225th and 249th, respectively.
Positive, Simpson received the 2013 U.S. Open, and was a top-5 participant on this planet, however his play has declined in recent times. His latest outcomes don’t warrant a spot inside a prestigious area such Pebble Seaside this week, the place some gamers ranked throughout the high 100 do not need the chance to play.
However on the flip facet, the PGA Tour and match organizers at Pebble Seaside are maybe rewarding these Participant Administrators for his or her arduous work, time, and dedication throughout this hostile interval throughout the sport.
Certainly, that may be a good gesture, however golf has no place for politicking, and different gamers have sniffed that out.
Jack Milko is a golf employees author for SB Nation’s Taking part in By way of. Make sure to try @_PlayingThrough for extra golf protection. You possibly can observe him on Twitter @jack_milko as effectively.