‘A sched­ule change will help the USP GA shed its la­bel as the least pres­ti­gious of the four ma­jors’

Golf World (UK) - - From The Editor - Nick Wright, Edi­tor nick.jwright@bauer­me­dia.co.uk @nick­jameswright

If the ma­jor pow­ers that be in golf (oth­er­wise known as the PGA Tour) get their way, next year’s US PGA Cham­pi­onship at Bel­lerive CC in St Louis, Mis­souri could very well be the last time the event takes place in Au­gust. There are strong in­di­ca­tions that it will move to May in 2019. The rea­sons for the sched­ule change are plen­ti­ful but the main cat­a­lyst is fi­nan­cial – the PGA Tour’s de­sire to shift its FedEx Cup Play-off Se­ries from Septem­ber to Au­gust, thereby avoid­ing a TV rat­ings clash with the pop­u­lar NFL (Amer­i­can Foot­ball).

To fa­cil­i­tate the move, the PGA Tour’s flag­ship event – The Play­ers – would re­vert to its for­mer date in March. This is par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing given that it was only 10 years ago that Tim Finchem was telling us Saw­grass was a much bet­ter golf course in May and that the later date would en­able them to present it in much bet­ter con­di­tion and at­tract more view­ers.

Talk to the play­ers, though, and they’ll tell you the real rea­son was to dis­tance The Play­ers from the Masters to give it a stronger iden­tity. Did any­body say, “fifth ma­jor?”

Pol­i­tics aside, it’s a win-win for all par­ties on the other side of the pond. The pro­posed changes would give the PGA Tour a string of premier events each month from March through Au­gust – The Play­ers, Masters, US PGA, US Open, Open and FedEx Cup play-offs. At the same time, the US PGA will be more likely to at­tract more TV view­ers and shed its la­bel as the least pres­ti­gious ma­jor if it’s not jammed into the nar­row win­dow be­tween the Open and FedEx Cup.

What this all means for the Euro­pean Tour, though, is not quite so clear. Our own BMW PGA would prob­a­bly need to move in or­der to avoid a date-clash with the US PGA, but to when? It is of­ten said (not by the Tour this time) that Went­worth is a bet­ter course in late au­tumn than early sum­mer, so a Septem­ber date might en­able Keith Pel­ley to at­tract more top Amer­i­cans to th­ese shores once the FedEx Cup is done and dusted. You can read more about this and other big ques­tions sur­round­ing next month’s PGA in our pre­view start­ing on p62. En­joy the is­sue.

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