PGA Championship's Move To May In '19 Reflects Desire To Avoid Olympics, NFL Kickoff
The PGA Championship is moving to May beginning in’19 at Bethpage Black as "part of a long-term plan that involves a major shift in the golf calendar, including The Players Championship going back to its March date," according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. A PGA of America official said that the change has "been in the works for four years." The catalyst behind the movement was golf's "return to the Olympics, along with the PGA Tour's desire" to wrap up the FedExCup Playoffs before the NFL season begins. Still to be determined is the how the rest of the PGA Tour schedule is "constricted to finish around Labor Day." One source said that the playoff event in Boston is "likely to go away" after '18. Another source said that one plan is for the Greenbrier Classic, "typically held in July, to move to the fall." The PGA Championship has "been in August" since '69 with two exceptions in '71 and last year ahead of the Rio Games. The PGA of America was "interested in building continuity, and a move to May could energize what has been looked upon as the last of the four majors." That also would "allow it to go to some areas that were deemed too hot for August, such as Texas, Florida and parts of the Southeast." However, the move also "eliminates other parts of the country from hosting." A source said that two traditional sites -- Whistling Straits in Wisconsin and Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota -- "would not be able to host the PGA Championship in May" (AP, 8/7). GOLF.com's Ryan Herrington noted Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., is "set to host the championship" in '23. Club officials said that they "believe the weather will be good enough to hold the tournament proper, but where it could be a factor is in setting up the infrastructure for the championship, which takes upwards of 100 days" (GOLF.com, 8/7). Wisconsin State Journal's Tom Oates tweeted the move "likely will eliminate northern courses ... due to weather" (TWITTER.com, 8/7).
LET'S GET IT STARTED: In California, Larry Bohannan wrote the move "might just elevate the PGA Championship to a level it has never reached." A slot between the Masters and the U.S. Open would "certainly make the PGA Championship more relevant" to fans who start "thinking about football by the middle of July." The change will not "hurt the British Open at all and might improve the overall respect for the PGA Championship" (DESERTSUN.com, 8/5). CBSSPORTS.com's Kyle Porter wrote this will be "seen as a great move" for the sport. The golf season is "far too long and any tightening that can be accomplished should be done" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/7). But GOLFCHANNEL.com's Rex Hoggard wrote the PGA "could get lost in what promises to be a busy time of year between the Masters and U.S. Open." However, the trade off "would be new venues" and a "much more compelling flow to the season" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 8/7).
RISE & SHINE: GOLF DIGEST's Dave Shedloski reported the PGA Championship's move "largely has been met with approval by PGA Tour players." Charley Hoffman, a member of the PGA Tour Policy Board, said, “They laid it out in front of us. First for TV negotiations, you want a Players Championship in a prime spot and maybe a better time of year for course conditioning, and then the reality is we want golf done before football. Football runs TV in that time of year." While Hoffman said the move could be a "great thing for the PGA," he added "only time will tell." Shedloski noted by having a schedule that "condenses golf’s biggest events into a six-month window, there’s the potential to create a more defined tournament calendar for PGA Tour pros." Rickie Fowler said, “From a scheduling standpoint, it might be a lot better for us to have an actual off-season like every other sport. The schedule will be more uniform from March to August as far as big events, which will probably be a good thing.” Phil Mickelson said the move will be a "really good thing for the PGA, because it would be earlier on in the rotation when there is maybe more excitement for the majors." Mickelson: “We get to August, and that excitement kind of dwindles a little. It’s at a time of year where golf seems to linger on, so maybe there will be more energy behind the PGA earlier in the year” (GOLFDIGEST.com, 8/7).
RIPPLE EFFECT: In Jacksonville, Garry Smits notes The Players' move back to March "could present a scheduling conflict" in '19. That is the year the NCAA Tournament "returns to Jacksonville, although it’s not clear if the two events would be in the same week" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/8). European Tour CEO Keith Pelley last month at the Open Championship said if the PGA were to move, his tour would "have to move the BMW PGA Championship" from May. Pelley: "Most likely we would move it into the fall." Golfer Lee Westwood said that the PGA move "will adversely affect his home tour in Europe." Westwood: “I'm sure that the commissioner of the PGA Tour knows that that is our flagship event. I don't think the European Tour and its tournaments figure anywhere in the PGA Tour's thinking at all" (MORNINGREAD.com, 8/8).