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.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm