PGA Tour Begins New Season With Another Loaded Schedule
The '19-20 PGA Tour season begins today with A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, and the schedule this year will be "just as crammed as it was last season," according to Bob Harig of ESPN.com. There will be 49 tournaments total, and with 11 tournaments over the next 11 weeks, the "days of skipping the fall events are fleeting for most players." The fall events "do not exactly follow any sensible geographic plot," though. The Tour goes from West Virginia to Mississippi next week, followed by Napa, Las Vegas and Houston. Six of the eight winners in the fall events last year "made the 30-man Tour Championship field, which gives an indication of how important these tournaments have become" (ESPN.com, 9/11). GOLFWEEK's Steve DiMeglio wrote the Tour's schedule "raises one elephant-in-the-room question: How will the players deal with it?" Last season, numerous players "struggled to find a rhythm and a proper balance to playing the condensed season of just more than 10 months." Figuring out a "suitable itinerary" was "easier said than done." Players "voiced their concern" and this season will be "just as equally challenging" (USA TODAY, 9/11).
ROOM TO GROW: Golf writer Geoff Shackelford said the first year of the revamped PGA Tour schedule was a "success for the majors," but "if you go and look at the strength of fields of the events around the majors, they took a hit." Shackelford: "The West Coast was strong. Florida was really strong. And then that whole series of events really the rest of the year, there were a lot of questions of if they made their tour stronger or weaker long term. And the player comments are kind of validating that" ("The Fried Egg Golf Podcast," 9/11).
ELITE STATUS: In California, Larry Bohannan writes the return of American Express as a title sponsor is "important" for the schedule as it becomes "part of an improving and strong West Coast swing." Last season, "many players decided to get in more golf on the West Coast." The "result was a West Coast swing with winners like Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar and an overall increase in the strength of field of the seven events." If American Express can "use its money and its prestige to upgrade" the Desert Classic, it will "add to an already growing importance of the West Coast to players, to television and to the tour" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 9/11).