Closing Shot: Swing States
The PGA Tour’s West Coast swing includes some of the tour’s longest-running events on some of the most iconic courses and features the biggest stars, such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory Mcllroy, each of whom will be making his 2020 debut.
This year’s five-week run also ushers in some major changes beginning on Jan. 16 with The American Express Pro-Am in La Quinta, Calif. The tour’s newest tournament title sponsor takes over an event that harks back to 1960 and the Bob Hope Classic era. It is the first time AmEx has been a title sponsor since it partnered with the WGC-American Express from 1999-2006.
“In the FedEx Cup era, there is a new dimension to the parts of the seasons and the fall has gained more prominence, but the West Coast swing is a big deal because it’s got that feel to it,” said Tyler Dennis, senior vice president and chief of operations for the PGA Tour. “It’s got a lot of tournaments that have been around for a long time and we see a lot of excitement.”
The West Coast swing’s four other events also figure to drive interest. After the American Express comes the Farmers Insurance Open Jan. 23-26 at Torrey Pines in San Diego, where Tiger Woods traditionally begins his season. Mcllroy will also tee it up for the first time in 2020 at the Farmers.
The Farmers will see the debut of a revamped announcing crew for CBS. Gone are some of the network’s longtime analysts, including Gary McCord and Peter Kostis, while two-time Ryder Cup captain Davis Love will make his broadcast debut for the network. Trevor Immelman, Frank Nobilo and Michelle Wie will also be part of the CBS golf coverage that begins a new look this year following the retirement of lead producer Lance Barrow.
The always-raucous Waste Management Phoenix Open follows the Farmers from Jan. 30-Feb. 2, with crowds swarming the TPC Scottsdale course and its iconic stadium holes for “the Greatest Show on Grass.” The event is often the tournament with highest attendance of the season.
Next comes the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am from Feb. 6-9, where golf and celebrity annually meet at the iconic seaside Pebble Beach course. This year’s Pebble Pro Am has a notable twist, as PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan partners with his dad, Joe, for a father-son pairing in the event.
The final West Coast event is The Genesis Invitational, to be held in Pacific Palisades, Calif., from Feb. 13-16. It will be beefed up with a more selective, invitation-only field of 120 players and a $9.3 million purse, the highest on the West Coast swing.
“It is one of my favorite times of the year,” Dennis said. “I love all the places and the history. It is a fun five weeks.”