Patrick Cantlay questions the PGA Tour’s “incentives” to promote itself on social media through the $50M Player Impact program

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LOS ANGELES — Defending FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay isn’t a fan of the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program, which awards players $50 million for their social media appeal and popularity.

World No. 3 Cantlay said he would prefer the money to go to the players for their performance on the pitch. Only the top 10 players in the PIP leaderboard will be rewarded.

“I think I’m old-fashioned in that I want the money to be distributed relative to gaming, and I don’t think the PIP does that,” Cantlay said during a news conference at Riviera Country Club on Tuesday. “It’s maybe the first departure the tour has had from rewarding good play to rewarding social media or popularity exposure, so I don’t like that departure.”

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said at last season’s Tour championship in East Lake that the organization would not publicly announce the winners.

“For us, it’s a program that we made, made by our players, with our players, for our players, and that’s what we decided when we made it,” Monahan said.

Phil Mickelson, who became the oldest player to win a major at the 2021 PGA Championship on Kiawah Island, declared himself the winner of the $8 million grand prize in December. Tiger Woods, who missed out on a tournament in 2021 after being seriously injured in a car accident, reportedly claimed the $6 million second prize. The total PIP pool for 2021 was $40 million.

“Do you think the tour should incentivize that because that’s my annoyance,” Cantlay said. “People are going to be promoting themselves on social media anyway and we’ve definitely seen that. The question is whether the tour should also provide an incentive for that.”

Players are measured by an “Impact Score” which is determined using five metrics including their popularity in Google searches, their Q rating, the Nielsen Brand Exposure rating, the MVP Index rating and their Meltwater Mentions, the measures the frequency that a player generates coverage across different media platforms.

Two-time Major Champion Collin Morikawa also said that the PIP money could probably be better used to reward players in other ways, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it.

“How many other leagues or sports pay the top 10 players for what they do for the game?” said Morikawa. “Well it’s a good thing and it’s a bad thing because I think, you know, boys deserve more? Do guys who really moved the needle, who produced what we did for the game, deserve more? Yeah right? They’ve changed our game and changed our game and it’s always evolving and opening it up to more people, that’s the biggest thing.”

World No. 2 Morikawa reportedly ended 2021 in 11th place with no money.

“But, I mean, what’s the pool this year, $50 million? I mean, that’s crazy about me,” Morikawa said. “$50 million to the top 10 players who can influence this game. Yes I think there are probably better routes, different things. I think we get $50,000 a year if we play 15 tournaments. I mean that’s $10 million right I think there are other ways to put that $60 million in it [use]. I mean, I don’t know.”

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