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Tour releases Olympics-jumbled 2015-16 schedule

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GAINESVILLE, Va. – The PGA Tour released its 2015-16 schedule on Thursday and, as previously reported, it is a crowded and condensed lineup thanks to golf’s return to the Olympic Games next August.

The 47-event schedule is largely unchanged through the U.S. Open, with the WGC-Dell Match Play's move to late March just two weeks before the Masters as the most notable exception.

The major shakeup will come late in the season as officials were forced to dramatically rework the schedule to make room for the Olympics, which will be played in Brazil the second week of August.

“It’s important from a worldwide standpoint, and I think it’s important to the game of golf that we work around the Olympics because it’s only once every four years,” said Jason Bohn, one of four player directors on the policy board which met on Monday at the Quicken Loans National.

The Open Championship will be played July 14-17 at Royal Troon followed two weeks later by the PGA Championship, July 28-31.

The Quicken Loans National will move to the week after the U.S. Open in late June, followed by the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which is normally played the week before the PGA.

The Travelers Championship and John Deere Classic will undergo the biggest moves, shifting to the first two weeks of August.

“When we started talking about this to the Tour, everybody bought in that the Olympics were going to grow the game and everybody was on the same page,” Travelers Championship tournament director Nathan Grube said.

The move actually worked in Grube’s favor, as TPC River Highlands implements a series of “major enhancements” starting this fall. The new date will allow officials time to assure the enhancements are completed for next season’s event.

“We thought for one year this could be an OK thing to make sure the course was done and everybody was fine with it,” said Grube, who anticipates moving back to the tournament’s traditional date, the third week in June, after 2016. “I think the Tour will learn a lot about the schedule.”

The transition for the John Deere Classic will not be as seamless, with the event moving from the week before the Open Championship to the same week as the men’s tournament in Rio (Aug. 11-14).

“We feel like we’ve had challenging dates over the 45-year history of our event, but the community has always supported it and we stand proud behind our product,” said tournament director Clair Peterson.

The Olympic field will include 60 players but will likely be top-heavy with star players. Current projections indicate that nearly half of the field will be made up of players ranked outside the top 100 in the World Golf Ranking.

“With only four of our American players playing and, to be honest, I don’t know how many Tour players will be in the [Olympic] field, I don’t know how much that will deter a field," Bohn said. "That would be the ultimate concern if I was the tournament director, but I don’t think it will diminish anything.”

The biggest exception to that will likely be Jordan Spieth, who won this year’s John Deere Classic but appears to be a lock to play for the United States in Rio.

“We expect him to be at the Olympics in 2016, and we are excited for him, and the chance to win a gold medal for your country is something you don’t [often] get a chance to do,” Peterson said.

The FedEx Cup playoffs will follow a similar schedule but the Tour did move the normal open date to the week after the BMW Championship. This year’s open date falls the week after the Deutsche Bank Championship.

The Tour Championship and Ryder Cup, which will be held at Hazeltine National in Minnesota, will be played in consecutive weeks in late September.

The full schedule appears below: