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Tour schedule changes as early as 2013

PGA Tour
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MOBILE, AL - NOVEMBER 10: Ben Barry of Tuscaloosa carries a stuffed Pink Panther on his shoulders as he follows Paula Creamer through her third round play in The Mitchell Company LPGA Tournament of Champions at Magnolia Grove Golf Course on November 10, 2007 in Mobile, Alabama. Creamer is nicknamed the Pink Panther. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)  - 

Among the highlights of Tuesday’s PGA Tour Policy Board conference call was a four-year contract extension for commissioner Tim Finchem, updates on potential sponsorship of the Tour’s secondary circuit and season-long points race and a dramatic proposed change to the Tour schedule.

The latter has been under consideration for about eight months Finchem told on Wednesday and would shift the start of the Tour season to the fall, after the Tour Championship in September.

The schedule change, which is likely contingent on the approval of another proposal to change the qualifying process for the PGA Tour and make the Nationwide Tour the primary avenue to membership, could happen as early as 2013 but Finchem said the details would need to be solidified by the end of the spring to meet that deadline.

“When you combine the restructure of the Nationwide Tour conclusion and the way you qualify for the PGA Tour and in addition to that you restructure the season, those are two fairly major changes and anytime you’ve got an organization that’s done things a certain way for a long period of time it’s complicated,” Finchem said. “It takes time to digest it.”

Finchem should have plenty of time to focus on the proposed change following a report on on Thursday that FedEx is poised to extend its contract as the sponsor of the Tour’s season-long point race and Hyundai, the title sponsor of the season opener in Hawaii since 2010, is ready to replace Nationwide as umbrella of the secondary circuit.

According to the report, FedEx has agreed to a new multi-year deal and an announcement is “imminent.”

Nationwide is stepping aside after six years sponsoring the secondary circuit and Hyundai has one year remaining on a three-year deal at Kapalua.