2019 schedule could end before football starts

By Rex HoggardAugust 8, 2017, 9:20 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – News that the PGA Championship will move from August to May and The Players from May to March beginning in 2019 dominated Tuesday’s headlines, but the bigger takeaway is what these pieces mean to a larger puzzle.

The moves are all part of the most dramatic makeover of the PGA Tour schedule since the introduction of the circuit’s four-event playoff series and are ultimately aimed at being able to end the season before Labor Day, which would keep golf from being engulfed by the vast shadow of professional and college football.

On Tuesday, officials were content to focus only on the date changes for the PGA and Players, and when asked specifics of how this could impact the overall schedule Tour commissioner Jay Monahan admitted this is still very much a work in progress.

“I’d love to be able to [talk about the 2019 schedule], but I don’t know the answer to that question because it’s so fluid,” Monahan said. “When you have the number of tournaments on our schedule and the potential changes that we’re looking at and the different variations, I would need to know exactly where we’d end up in order to answer that.”

Although officials were short on specifics, various sources with knowledge of what the ’19 lineup could look like describe a dramatic assortment of moving parts and potential changes.

Looking at the 2019 calendar, the season would begin in familiar fashion, with two events in Hawaii followed by the traditional West Coast swing. Following the Genesis Open in Los Angeles, the first change will be to move the World Golf Championship in Mexico, which was played during the Florida swing this season, to late February.

“We think that going from the West Coast to Mexico to Florida is the logical place for our schedule. We have work to do on that front,” Monahan said.

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The Florida swing would now include the Honda Classic the first week of March, followed by The Players, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas. Given the need to condense the schedule, sources said this could mean the Valspar Championship held outside of Tampa, Fla., could be relocated to the fall portion of the schedule.

The date for the ’19 Masters has already been announced, April 4-7, and the rest of the April schedule would remain unchanged depending on what happens at the Wells Fargo Championship, which had to relocate this year because of the PGA Championship being held at Quail Hollow.

Quail Hollow is also scheduled to host the 2021 Presidents Cup and there have been rumors the club wants to be included in the rotation for the BMW Championship, which could put its future as a regular Tour stop in question.

May would be the most significant makeover of the schedule, with the addition of the PGA Championship, May 16-19. This would break up the normal Dallas-Fort Worth swing, with the AT&T Byron Nelson played before the PGA followed by the Dean & DeLuca Invitational after the year’s second major.

June could also see significant changes, with the U.S. Open scheduled for June 13-16 followed by the Travelers Championship and preceded by the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Uncertain is the future of the Quicken Loans National, which is likely in the market for a new sponsor after the deal with Quicken Loans expired this season, and the Greenbrier Classic, which some suggest would move to the fall schedule.

July remains relatively the same, with the John Deere Classic, Open Championship, RBC Canadian Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational; while August would serve as the circuit’s final run with the Wyndham Championship followed by three playoff stops (Northern Trust, BMW Championship and Tour Championship).

Under this scenario the playoff stop in Boston would no longer be on the schedule and the Tour would remove the traditional “bye” week in the playoffs to end the season on Sept. 1 in Atlanta, a week before football season gets underway.

“To culminate with three FedExCup events instead of four, and finish the year before football starts, when there’s nothing else really that we’re competing with,” Phil Mickelson said on Tuesday. “We can finish with a bang and really get some excitement around the FedExCup, and not have an extra week off where you’re requiring five weeks to play four weeks, just go boom, boom, boom.”

Although most players seemed in favor of a condensed schedule with just three playoff events, the Tour would likely need to adjust how many postseason points are doled out to increase the volatility and also adjust how many players advance to each event (currently, the top 125 players on the points list start the postseason, with the top 100 advancing to the second, 70 to the third and 30 to the season finale).

Officials would have the flexibility to tinker with the dates of the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup (which is scheduled to be played in Australia in 2019), which would provide a much-needed week off for top players before the matches, and the wraparound season would begin directly afterward.

“It does open up the door to potentially talk about changing the date, not significantly, but a bit perhaps with the Ryder Cup down the road,” said Pete Bevacqua, the PGA’s CEO.

Given the complexity of the changes to the ’19 schedule it’s no wonder Monahan was reluctant to address any specifics beyond the PGA and Players move, but whatever happens, it will be dramatic.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.