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Putting together the 2018-19 Tour schedule puzzle

By Rex HoggardMay 16, 2018, 5:50 pm

In March, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan suggested it was his “hope” to announce the 2018-19 schedule at last week’s Players Championship, but as the circuit’s flagship event came and went there was no news.

“We have the situation in Houston and we’re doing everything we can to get that solved,” Monahan said last weekend at TPC Sawgrass. “The optimist in me thought there was a good chance we might have it solved by now. While we’re having good discussions, it’s not yet complete.”

Monahan touched on a number of elements that still need to fall into place – chief among them a title sponsor for the circuit’s annual stop in Houston – before the schedule is ready for public consumption and he added that there is currently no timeline for when the schedule might be announced.

“You’re fundamentally changing your season. You’ve got to work with everybody and explain to them what your objectives are,” he said. “You have to recognize that in some cases there might be change and there might be some negative elements to it and just being a good partner. That just takes time.

“I do look at it as it’s been a lot of fun and I’m really excited about what we’re doing.”

The vast majority of that new schedule, however, is relatively straightforward. According to various sources, in many cases tournament’s own websites, the central elements of next year’s lineup are already in place.

Jan. 3-6  Sentry Tournament of Champions The West Coast swing remains unchanged.
Jan. 10-13  Sony Open  
Jan. 17-20  CareerBuilder Challenge  Although job site CareerBuilder signed a six-year deal to sponsor the event in 2015, sources say a new title sponsor could be stepping in soon.
Jan. 24-27  Farmers Insurance Open  
Jan. 31-Feb. 3 Waste Management Phoenix Open.   
Feb. 7-10  AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am  
Feb. 14-17  Genesis Open The tournament received a boost this year with Tiger Woods’ return to Riviera, but it remains to be seen how the WGC-Mexico Championship’s relocation will impact the field
Feb. 21-24  WGC-Mexico Championship This event had been played in the middle of the Florida swing in early March and the move should make it geographically more convenient for players.
Feb. 28-March 3  Honda Classic The event should receive a lifetime “most improved” award with its move to PGA National in 2007 and Jack Nicklaus’ involvement, but like the Los Angeles stop it could suffer around so many high-profile events.
March 7-10  Arnold Palmer Invitational A week before The Players, two weeks after the World Golf Championship in Mexico and two weeks before the Match Play. That’s a tough neighborhood.
March 14-17  The Players Championship After 12 successful years in May, the circuit’s flagship event moves back to March, which is a central part of the schedule makeover.
March 21-24  Valspar Championship Like Bay Hill, the annual Tampa-area stop will likely take a hit because of the crowded spring calendar.
March 28-31  WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play There was talk about this event sliding to the fall portion of the schedule, but it seems officials ultimately decided it’s best to avoid putting a marquee event up against football.
April 4-7  Valero Texas Open The folks in Houston had made the pre-Masters stop an interesting addition for some players. The challenge for San Antonio is replicating that success.
April 11-14  Masters Tournament  
April 18-21  RBC Heritage  
April 25-28  Zurich Classic The transition to a team event last year has proven to be a boost for a tournament that has historically struggled to draw a deep field.
May 2-5  Wells Fargo Championship Some predicted the success of the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow would be the end of a normal Tour event in Charlotte, but officials appear committed to keeping the Wells Fargo Championship on the schedule.
May 9-12  AT&T Byron Nelson A new course this year could backfire on tournament officials and having the PGA Championship wedged in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth swing won’t help.
May 16-19  PGA Championship The move to May is the biggest piece of the schedule makeover, giving golf five consecutive months of “major” events. How this will impact the PGA of America’s ability to play on traditional venues in the Northeast remains to be seen.
May 23-26  Fort Worth Invitational Charles Schwab & Co., recently agreed to a four-year sponsorship deal starting in 2019, and one of the circuit’s most popular courses will assure a solid field.
May 30-June 2  Memorial Tournament  
June 6-9  Houston Open Houston, we have a problem. Monahan confirmed that finding a title sponsor for the event contributed to the schedule not being complete in time for a Players announcement, and sources say officials have until early June to find a new sponsor. If no sponsor can be found, Minneapolis and 3M are poised to step in.
June 13-16  U.S. Open  
June 20-23  Travelers Championship  
June 27-30  Quicken Loans (Detroit) Officials at Quicken Loans have been rather outspoken about this in recent weeks. “Quicken [Loans] has stated where we’re at, so I don’t have anything to add to that,” Monahan said. This event would replace The National on the schedule, which currently doesn’t have a sponsor.
July 4—7  RBC Canadian Open This could be a temporary landing spot for the event, which historically has been played after The Open, but it’s not a bad long-term option.
July 11-14  John Deere Classic  
July 18-21  The Open The game’s oldest major will now become the year’s final major.
July 25-28  WGC-FedEx Invitational With Bridgestone out, FedEx stepped up to sponsor the event, although moving from Akron, Ohio, to Memphis in July will make for, let’s say, a steamy transition.
Aug. 1-4  Wyndham Championship The final regular-season event will essentially become something of a “play in” tournament for players looking to shore up their playoff chances now that the post-season will go to three events with the loss of the Boston-area stop.
Aug. 8-11  The Northern Trust Sources have suggested that this event could feature a golf course rotation that would include TPC Boston, which had hosted the now-departed third playoff event.
Aug. 15-18  BMW Championship With one fewer playoff event, the second post-season stop will take on added importance. Monahan confirmed that the structure will “likely” remain unchanged, with the top 125 players on the regular-season points list qualifying for the first playoff event, 70 for the second and 30 for the Tour Championship. It also seems likely that with one fewer playoff stop the Tour will need to rework the post-season points format to add some volatility.
Aug. 22-25  Tour Championship According to numerous sources, the Tour is looking to change the way it crowns a FedExCup champion, although details of that plan remain unclear. “We’re looking at everything. When we have the schedule finalized we’re get into all the details,” Monahan said when asked about a potential change at East Lake. “It’s just too early, we haven’t made any decisions. We continue to look at the best possible outcome for our fans. We realize that there are some elements to it [the playoffs] that aren’t easy to understand, so trying to get to a world where it might be more understandable than it is today.”
Sept.-Nov. Wraparound season
To be clear, the Tour is not contracting its schedule. There will still be a wraparound season with events in the fall, most notably the Greenbrier Classic, which had been played in July but appears poised for a September date.
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Watch: Dechambeau simulates dew on East Lake range

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 18, 2018, 11:02 pm

Bryson DeChambeau has certainly lived up to his nickname of "Mad Scientist" since joining the PGA Tour, using his eccentric style to win four events, including the first two tournaments of this year's FedExCup Playoffs.

And he's staying on brand at the season-ending Tour Championship, where he enters as the favorite to capture the FedExCup title.

The 24-year-old was spotted on the East Lake range Tuesday, preparing for potential morning dew on the golf ball this week - by having a member of his team spray each golf ball between practice shots:

While this type of preparation might come off as a little excessive to the average golfer, it's rather mild for DeChambeau, considering that in the last two weeks alone he has discussed undergoing muscle activation tests and measuring his brain waves.

DeChambeau goes off with Justin Rose on Thursday at 2 p.m. He could finish as low as T-29 and still have a mathematical chance of winning the season-long FedExCup.

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Fewer goals but more consistency for Thomas in 2018

By Rex HoggardSeptember 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

ATLANTA – After winning last year’s FedExCup, Justin Thomas was asked about his goals for the season and he quickly went to his phone.

A list of 13 “goals” had been typed in, a rundown that ranged from qualifying for the Tour Championship to finishing in the top 10 in half of the circuit’s statistical categories. Nearly every goal had a “Y” next to it to denote he’d accomplished what he wanted.

Thomas was asked on Tuesday at East Lake how his goals are shaping up this season.

“I haven't looked in a while. I really haven't. I'm sure if I had to guess, I'm probably around 50 to 60, 70 percent [have been completed],” he said. “I definitely haven't achieved near as many as I did the previous year. But we still have one week left to knock a big goal off.”

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Thomas pointed out that although he didn’t add to his major total this season or win as many times as he did last year, he still feels like he’s been more consistent this year.

He has more top-25 finishes (19) than he did last year (14), missed fewer cuts (two compared to six last season) and has improved in nearly every major statistical category.

“It's been a really consistent year, and I take a lot of pride in that,” Thomas said. “That's a big goal of mine is to improve every year and get better every year, so if I can continue in this direction, I feel like I can do some pretty great things the rest of my career.”

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Woods' probation for reckless driving ends one month early

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 18, 2018, 9:00 pm

Tiger Woods' year-long probation stemming from last year's DUI arrest has been terminated a month early.

According to Sam Smink of WPTV, Woods, 42, was let off probation early for successfully completing all regular and special conditions of his probation after pleading guilty to reckless driving and entering a diversion program last October.

Under the conditions of the program, Woods was required to pay a $250 fine and court costs, attend a DUI school and undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment program. He was also subject to random drug and alcohol testing under the program.

The 14-time major champ was arrested on charges of DUI in May of 2017 after he was found unconscious behind the wheel of his parked Mercedes-Benz in Jupiter, Fla.

Although tests showed Woods was not under the influence of alcohol at the time, he admitted to taking several pain and sleep medications to cope with his fourth back surgery which was performed in April.

Since his arrest, Woods has returned to competition, rising to 21st in the Official World Golf Ranking after a pain-free campaign in 2018.

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Players wrapping their heads around FedEx changes

By Rex HoggardSeptember 18, 2018, 8:01 pm

ATLANTA – Even players who have known the details of the PGA Tour’s plan to dramatically change the way it crowns a FedExCup champion were still digesting the details on Tuesday at the Tour Championship.

“I think it’s maybe easier to follow for people at home. Kind of definitely strange and very different to be on 10 under par starting on the first tee,” said Justin Rose, who begins this week’s finale second on the points list.

Next year when a new strokes-based system will decide the season-long race, Rose would begin his week at East Lake 8 under, two strokes behind front-runner Bryson DeChambeau and eight shots ahead of Nos. 26-30 on the points list.

Most players said the new format will be an improvement over the current model, which is based on a complicated points structure. That’s not to say the new plan has been given universal support.

Current FedExCup standings

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Under the current format, the 30th-ranked player has a .4 percent chance of winning the cup, while the first player on the points list has a 27 percent chance. Those odds remain virtually identical under next year’s strokes-based format.

“I’m not saying the 30th guy should have the same shot as the fifth guy, but just make the odds a little bit better. Give them a 5 percent chance,” Billy Horschel said. “The strokes could be distributed differently. Maybe put the leader at 6 under [instead of 10 under] and then you go down to even par. Five or six shots back, over four days, you still have a chance.”

There will no doubt be a period of adjustment, but after more than three years of planning, most players were pleased with the general elements of the new plan if not all of the details.

“It's never going to be perfect,” said Justin Thomas, last year’s FedExCup champion and a member of the player advisory council. “No system in any sport is ever going to be perfect, and the Tour has done such a great job of talking to us and trying to get it as good as possible. But it's just hard to understand the fact that you could be starting behind somebody else and still somehow win a golf tournament or an official win.”