PGA TOUR unveils significantly revamped 2018-19 Season schedule
July 10, 2018
The PGA TOUR has unveiled a bold tournament schedule for next season, citing a motivation to provide an exciting change for players and fans alike as they engage with – and more easily follow – an improved “sequencing” of events in a packed agenda featuring significant championships in every month, culminating with the FedExCup Playoffs in August.
Highlights from the new 46-tournament schedule:
• The FedExCup Playoffs will feature three events, instead of four: THE NORTHERN TRUST, August 5-11 (125-player field); the BMW Championship, August 12-18 (70 players); and the TOUR Championship August 19-25 (30 players). TPC Boston will continue as a Playoffs site every other year, rotating with the New York City area as host of THE NORTHERN TRUST starting in 2020.
• As previously announced, two new tournaments have been added, though now the dates have been confirmed: the Rocket Mortgage Classic June 24-30, the first PGA TOUR tournament to be held in the city of Detroit; and the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities July 1-7, which becomes the first PGA TOUR Champions tournament to transition to the PGA TOUR.
• Per last week’s announcement, the RBC Canadian Open is moving from its traditional spot in late July to June 3-9, leading into the U.S. Open. Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Hamilton, Ontario, will host the event for the first time since 2012.
• The Puerto Rico Open returns to the schedule following its cancellation this year due to the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico is slotted for February 18-24, the same week as the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.
• As previously announced, THE PLAYERS Championship moves from May to March (11-17) and the PGA Championship moves from August to May (13-19).
• Also announced previously is the final World Golf Championships event of the season, until now staged in Akron, Ohio, will be held July 22-28 at TPC Southwind in Memphis as the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational (replacing the FedEx St. Jude Classic).
• The Houston Open and A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier are moving to the fall and will be played next as part of the 2019-20 schedule.
“We are extremely pleased with the way the schedule has come together, particularly with the number of changes that were involved and the strength of the partnerships required to achieve this new look,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “It’s been our stated objective for several years to create better sequencing of our tournaments that golf fans around the world can engage in from start to finish. And by concluding at the end of August, the FedExCup Playoffs no longer have the challenge of sharing the stage with college and professional football. This will enhance the visibility of the FedExCup Playoffs and overall fan engagement with the PGA TOUR and the game as a whole.”
Monahan credited FedEx, umbrella sponsor of the FedExCup, title sponsors and host organizations for their crucial role with the revamped schedule.
“Beginning with our 10-year extension with FedEx last May and continuing with many recent, long-term title sponsor commitments, as well as new sponsors and host organizations joining the PGA TOUR, our key constituents have validated our vision and the direction for our future,” he said. “Our thanks to these tremendous partners for their flexibility and support during this process. We feel strongly that together, we have created a schedule that will heighten interest in all tournaments while further elevating the FedExCup Playoffs.”
The season also features venue rotations for several tournaments, including the first two FedExCup Playoffs events. THE NORTHERN TRUST returns to Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, where it was last held in 2013, while the BMW Championship returns to Medinah Country Club near Chicago for the first time since 1966.
The three rotating major championships add historical notes to the schedule. Coinciding with the PGA Championship’s first May dates since 1949 will be its debut at Bethpage Black on New York’s Long Island. The Open Championship, meanwhile, will be held at Royal Portrush July 15-21, marking its return to Northern Ireland after nearly 70 years. And the U.S. Open (June 10-16), last held at Pebble Beach Golf Links in 2010, returns next year when the club celebrates its 100th anniversary.
The revamped schedule has been well received by leading players and administrators alike, and home fans should relish the prospect of the Open Championship being the fourth and final major of the season. And with the main tour action Stateside culminating with the FEDEX Cup playoffs and Tour Championship by late August, the European Tour has the opportunity to dominate the Fall season and attract serious American interest – a challenge the Tour’s Chief Executive, Keith Pelley, has met with characteristic relish. As was announced last summer, the flagship PGA Championship will enjoy a more favourable September slot from 2019 onwards, kicking off the four-tournament finale in the ‘Race to Dubai’.
Ultimately, it appears that golf’s movers and shakers are doing all they can to make the game as visible and accessible to the global audience – and with a major championship anchoring the schedule in consecutive months from April, the game should enjoy terrific momentum through the traditional season. Most significantly, perhaps, is the US PGA’s move to a May slot, which should increase interest and energy around what has always been regarded – by some margin – as a distant fourth major.