With the Open gone for another year, it’s time to look forward to the final major of the season, the USPGA Championship. Oh, hang on, no it’s not. We had that in May. In fact the next major begins on April 9, when the clans will gather for the 84th staging of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National. So just a little over eight months to go, then.
The USPGA got moved up from August to May this year, and for the foreseeable future, so that the FedEx Cup playoffs could be concluded before the NFL season gets underway. Obviously it’s a different form of football but, as in the UK, that sport holds sway. One just can’t help but think that, golf-wise, we have a case of the tail wagging the dog.
When it was the fourth of the four majors in a season, in any way you cared to consider it, the USPGA (which is operated by the PGA of America) would get up the corporate nose of the PGA Tour (which runs no majors) by being promoted as ‘Glory’s Last Shot’. The underlying subtext, at least to the minds of the PGA Tour, was that anything which followed it, notably the conclusion of the FedEx Cup series, didn’t amount to more than a hill of beans. The slogan duly got the bullet and now the FedEx Cup, which was only introduced in 2007, has got the major championships, tournament golf’s holiest of holiest, being reshuffled for its benefit.
Speaking of the condensing of the ‘major season’ into a little over three months, Tommy Fleetwood, who finished second to Shane Lowry at Royal Portrush, talked some sense. “The schedule has been really rough this year,” he said. “Part of that is if you’re not playing great you don’t have the time to develop your game. You don’t have that time to take periods off and you always have to turn up and perform.”
Tiger Woods only played in one non-major between the Masters, which he won, and the Open, where he missed the cut. OK, so he has health/fitness issues, but Francesco Molinari, who was the defending champion at Portrush, reluctantly did not have a warm-up tournament before the Open. “I felt like the majors were coming too fast,” he said. “It seems like yesterday we were playing in Augusta and all of a sudden the four majors are gone.”
Justin Rose won the FedEx Cup and its $10-million bonus last year and he agreed with Molinari. “We are all trying to adapt to this new schedule,” he said, “and the [majors] seem to be coming thick and fast. One a month - in my opinion they’re too soon [i.e. too close together].”
Hey, just wait until next season, when Rose will be defending his Olympic title at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Japan. That event will tee-off on July 30, just 11 days after the Open has ended at Royal St George’s. From there, Justin & Co can jet off to the FedEx, have a couple of weeks off and then it’ll be the Ryder Cup… although they should still be able to make it home for Christmas.
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