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Golf Looming schedule overhaul could increase PGA Championship



ST. LOUIS – When it comes to the golf plan, the operative word for PGA Tour headquarters has recently been cadence. For decades, this cadence is more or less the same. The year begins with the buildup to the Masters, which, oddly enough, follows a two-month wait for the US Open. The British Open and the PGA Championship follow in quick succession.

But this traditional rhythm will change after the completion of the PGA Championship at the weekend in Bellerive. The relocation of the tournament to May, starting in 201

9, will cause some short-term quirks; The PGA Championship includes two of the three majors between then and now.

It also has the potential to boost the profile of a tournament that recently felt the need to adopt a slogan reminding people that this is a major. It read, "That's important."

"What would it mean to follow the masters and be chronologically the second of the four majors over the fourth?" PGA of America Chief Executive

Pete Bevacqua

asked on Wednesday. He left the question unanswered.

Firstly, avoiding the August playing conditions, which is more desirable than ever this week. A midwestern heatwave left the greens of Bellerive burned and stained, causing the tournament officials to slow down the green speed to protect them.

It could also take the tournament to other parts of the country, especially in Texas hosting a major since 1969. The next year, unclaimed by a host, is not until 2025 – next is New York's Bethpage Black – but The May weather will create different options.

The biggest influence could be on the stature of a tournament that has long been regarded as the least regarded of the majors. When officials thought about moving to May, they were encouraged by the CBS broadcasting the tournament. The network is calculating slightly higher ad rates in May and believes the scores will be higher, even during a busier time in the sports calendar, which includes competition from the NBA playoffs and other events. In August, many spectators are on vacation.

The players will not mind. "I think the next big schedule is going to be really good next year – one in April, May, June and July"

Jordan Spieth

said. "If you have a nice run and play good golf there, starting with the Masters, you can really let it run through the entire high season."

The PGA Championship was played in August for most of the previous half. Century. It is operated by the PGA of America, the organization of club professionals, who in 1968 joined together tour professionals for today's PGA Tour. They have been independent beings since then – when they were sometimes confused. But the imminent postponement of the timeline began with the two organizations finding a common cause.

The return of the Golf to the 2016 Summer Olympics meant that the PGA Championship would have to be postponed every four years. It was held in July this year between the British Open and the Olympics, so it does not feel that big. "We are big supporters of the Olympics, but we also need to protect the PGA Championship," said Bevacqua.

The PGA Tour had its own appointment problem. Since 2007, the playoffs of the FedEx Cup have been held from late August to late September, but events were barely registered during the football season.

Even Spieth's win in 2015, which earned him a $ 10 million prize after winning two majors, gave rise to bleak reviews. "It should be a coronation and it is a tree that falls into the forest," said

Scott Seymour,

Head of golf consulting at Octagon

That led to a series of moves next year. The Players Championship will be held from May to March, the FedEx Cup will end before Labor Day, several other PGA Tour stops will change position and new ones will debut in Detroit and Minneapolis.

"The trigger point for everything moved PGA Championship until May," said

Andy Pazder,

the PGA Tour main tournament and competition leader. "That was the first domino that fell."

Just as important as tournaments is when top players decide to play. Most of them plan their schedules around the majors, the courses that suit them, the tournaments that pay the most, and the ones their sponsors invest in. That's pretty predictable.

Top players tend to play a lot Planning in February and March, take up to a month after the Masters and play many of the same events each year. The rhythm of their own seasons changes in ways they are not sure yet.

"Looking at the schedule, next year will be a bit of a Crapshoot," Seymour said. "Some of these traditional events that players have played may not fit into schedules based on how they prepare for majors – this is a brand new experiment."

The one constant will be the week that's on the calendar Player stands over the other. After the Ryder Cup next month, much of what the top players are planning – when and where to play in spring 2019 – starts by working back from the Masters. It has become the sun around which the rest of the golfing season moves.

"It's so funny"

Justin Thomas

said. "Something about Augusta – you always think about it."

Write to Brian Costa at brian.costa@wsj.com


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