Johnson, McIl­roy yearn in vain for off-sea­son

New Straits Times - - Sport -

CHAR­LOTTE: Top-ranked Dustin Johnson and four-time ma­jor win­ner Rory McIl­roy ap­plaud mov­ing the PGA Cham­pi­onship to May, but their hopes for a golf off-sea­son aren’t likely to be re­alised any­time soon.

That was the up­shot from Tues­day’s PGA of Amer­ica an­nounce­ment that the tour­na­ment, the 99th edi­tion of which opens to­day at Quail Hol­low, would shift to May start­ing in 2019 at Beth­page Black.

“It’s great for the golf sched­ule,” McIl­roy said. “A May date for the PGA of Amer­ica is a re­ally good thing just from a player’s per­spec­tive.

“I’ve been a big sup­porter of it from the first time I heard about it and the an­nounce­ment to­day I think has been very well re­ceived by a lot of the play­ers in the locker room.”

The sched­ule features one big event a month from the Play­ers in March as a tune-up for the Mas­ters in April, with the PGA now in mid-May, the US Open in mid-June and the Bri­tish Open in mid-July ahead of the US PGA play­offs and a Ry­der or Pres­i­dents Cup.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s still a cou­ple years away, but I’m ex­cited to play a sched­ule like that go­ing for­ward,” McIl­roy said. “It just has a bet­ter flow to it.”

Au­gust-Septem­ber sched­ule over­load had been an is­sue since the US PGA Tour play­offs be­gan.

“I ac­tu­ally like the changes they are go­ing to make,” Johnson said. “It’s go­ing to kind of space ev­ery­thing out a lit­tle bit more in­stead of it all be­ing kind of crammed to­gether. So it gives you a lit­tle bit more time to pre­pare.”

Play­ers said they would en­joy hav­ing an golf off-sea­son, al­low­ing down time for them to rest and time to whet the ap­petite of golf fans be­tween cam­paigns.

“I’ve al­ways thought that an off­sea­son in golf would be good,” McIl­roy said. “Not just for the play­ers to get a lit­tle bit of rest and work on their games and what­ever, but just from a fan per­spec­tive. Cre­ate a lit­tle bit of hype be­fore the sea­son starts again. So I’d be a big ad­vo­cate for an off-sea­son, if we ever had one.”

Johnson wouldn’t mind the chance to let his body re­cover from the grind of a sea­son.

“You need to give your body a rest,” he said. “Ev­ery sport has to have time off to pre­pare for the next year, train­ing a lit­tle bit and try­ing to get stronger. Now there are tour­na­ments ev­ery sin­gle week.”

Both play­ers cited the NFL, the world’s rich­est team sports league, for hav­ing ba­si­cally four months of reg­u­lar-sea­son matches and six months off.

“They play 16, 18 weeks a year, what­ever it is, but for the other 30-odd weeks, ev­ery­one’s still talk­ing about it, talk­ing about what’s go­ing to hap­pen next sea­son,” McIl­roy said. “The an­tic­i­pa­tion, the hype, builds.”

As Johnson said of the NFL, “I know I can’t wait un­til it comes back and I’m def­i­nitely not the only per­son.”

Add 2016 PGA Cham­pi­onship win­ner Jimmy Walker to the off­sea­son sup­port­ers.

“An off-sea­son does sound nice. I’m not go­ing to lie. A cou­ple months off would be great,” he said. AFP

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