Should the PGA Championship move to October?

By Doug FergusonAugust 5, 2013, 11:45 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Phil Mickelson was elated. Tiger Woods was frustrated. Lee Westwood was trying to pretend he wasn't disheartened.

That was the British Open. That was only 15 days ago.

Time to move on to the next major. Monday was the first official day of practice for the PGA Championship, which feels more like the next page than a new chapter.

''They come fast and quick once the U.S. Open hits,'' Graeme McDowell said.

No need explaining that to Ernie Els. He is playing for the seventh time in the last nine weeks, three of them major championships.

And no need complaining to Jack Nicklaus. He had it far worse.

In his second year as a professional, already a Masters and U.S. Open champion, Nicklaus had his first good shot at winning the British Open until he stumbled down the stretch at Royal Lytham & St. Annes and finished one shot behind Bob Charles.

Ten days later, he won his first PGA Championship.

''They used to have the British Open and the PGA back-to-back, which was really kind of silly,'' Nicklaus said. ''I was fortunate to be able to get back.''

He was equally fortunate to be 23 with a strong body and a clear mind. One week, Nicklaus was playing links golf with a small golf ball in temperatures in the mid-50s in the northwest of England. The next week he was playing the final American major at Dallas Athletic Club, where the temperatures topped 100.

''It was a big change,'' Nicklaus said. ''I think a lot of the guys got back, and I think they were probably pretty tired from the British Open and I think they were pretty tired from ... the weather just absolutely beat them down. I guess I was a young guy and I handled those conditions pretty well.''

That was 50 years ago. So maybe now, having a whole two weeks between majors, represents progress.

But the PGA Championship can do better – not only for the players, but for the marketing of a major that lags well behind the other three in popularity.

McDowell was trying to pay a compliment to the PGA Championship last year at Firestone when the truth got in the way. Asked about the final major of the year, he said, ''There's not a guy standing on the range that wouldn't put it head-and-shoulders over any tournament in the world – apart from the other three major championships.''

Perhaps that's because the other three majors have such a clear identity.

The British Open is links golf. The U.S. Open bills itself as the toughest test in golf. the Masters is played on the magical stage of Augusta National every year, making it the course golf fans know better than any other in the world. And the PGA Championship? Geoff Ogilvy once referred to it as ''the other one.''

How to fix that? Consider making less money from TV revenue and move it to October.

The Masters has loads of built-in advantages, and one that gets overlooked is the anticipation. After the Wanamaker Trophy is awarded Sunday at Oak Hill, golf fans have to wait eight months before the next major. The excitement for the Masters only builds when CBS starts airing promotions in the months leading to it.

There are roughly two months before the U.S. Open, and then a month before the British Open – and barely time for a nap before the PGA Championship.

''It is quick,'' Padraig Harrington said after the British Open. ''You think of the guys who are going to play next week (in Canada) and that's four big tournaments in a row. It's a lot of golf. The great thing about being at the PGA and the U.S. Open is they tend to set the course up very uniformly. You can definitely go play these tournaments from a yardage book. ... We know what we're going to get.''

To be clear, having these majors stacked on top of each other is not a great burden on the player. It's golf, not a triathlon.

It just keeps the PGA Championship from getting the buildup it deserves. And the PGA deserves better.

As much as the final major gets overlooked as ''the other one,'' look back over the last five years and try to find anything dull about the PGA Championship. Rory McIlroy, the rising star with a record win at Kiawah. Keegan Bradley's remarkable recovery from a triple bogey to win in a playoff. Martin Kaymer's win and Dustin Johnson's fiasco in the bunker at Whistling Straits. Y.E. Yang taking down Tiger Woods at Hazeltine. Harrington ripping out Sergio Garcia's heart for the second straight year in a major.

Here's why October works.

In this global game, it fits the international schedule perfectly. A month after the British Open, thePGA Tour begins its lucrative FedEx Cup playoffs until the end of September. A month later, the European Tour begins its Race to Dubai with a series of tournaments in Asia.

In between would be the final major of the year - a real ''Super Bowl'' to end the U.S. season.

For those who care nothing about golf except for the majors - and it's a larger population than the PGA Tour wants to believe - this gives them one last event to anticipate in the fall. And in Ryder Cup years, the matches could be played in August instead of a month later. That could help avoid weather issues, particularly in Europe. The only concern is shrinking daylight, though the PGA could reduce the field. Even at 124 players, it would still be the strongest of the majors.

Here's why it probably won't happen.

''I assume these things are based on TV ratings, financials, things like that,'' Harrington said.

Correct.

The PGA Championship is not just the final major of the year. It's the final major before the American football season begins. The ratings wouldn't be quite as high. The revenue would not be as great. Then again, it's not as if the PGA of America would go broke by taking less money to elevate its major championship. One only has to look at the clothing budget for the Ryder Cup, or the party it throws in October at Bermuda called the Grand Slam of Golf.

''That's true. They don't look like they need (money) that week,'' Harrington said. ''But it's all part of making a tournament prestigious. If they move it to October, could they make it a bigger tournament? Who knows? But it wouldn't be a bad thing for us.''

It wouldn't be a bad thing for anyone who loves golf.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.