A RISE UP THE RANK­INGS?

Will a change of date bring the US PGA a lit­tle more re­spect?

Golf World (UK) - - PGA CHAMPIONSHIP -

In Au­gust 2017, the PGA of Amer­ica an­nounced it was mov­ing its flag­ship event from Au­gust to May, be­gin­ning in 2019. So what dif­fer­ence will that make? The US PGA Cham­pi­onship has been played in nine dif­fer­ent months since its in­au­gu­ra­tion in 1916, and four times in May – the last Sam Snead’s win in 1949.

The pri­mary rea­son for the shift in dates was golf’s re­turn to the Olympic Games which meant that once ev­ery four years the tour­na­ment would be se­verely dis­rupted. Mov­ing to May ne­ces­si­tated the Play­ers Cham­pi­onship rev­ert­ing from May to March, and means the US PGA will now be the se­cond ma­jor in the sea­son rather than the fourth – a re­order­ing that could con­ceiv­ably en­able the event to el­e­vate its sta­tus, or peo­ple’s per­cep­tion of it at least. Though it will prob­a­bly never reach the heights of the Mas­ters, US Open or Open Cham­pi­onship, it could at least be a bet­ter US PGA Cham­pi­onship.

Since 1972, the US PGA has been the fourth of the year’s ma­jors and hasn’t gen­er­ated as much ex­cite­ment as an event with its his­tory and hon­ours board should. Last and prob­a­bly least would be apt. Some re­cent tour­na­ments have done much to halt the trend, but the US PGA was for a long time as­so­ci­ated with sweat-drenched pros labour­ing round a rather mo­not­o­nous se­ries of park­land cour­ses.

One slight con­cern is that by May, few cour­ses in Amer­ica’s North­east and Mid­west have fully emerged from win­ter, and would be in suit­able shape to host a ma­jor cham­pi­onship which means the event is likely to be con­fined to the south­east, Texas, and the south­west. The num­ber of po­ten­tial cham­pi­onship venues may there­fore be some­what lim­ited. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how Beth­page Black on Long Is­land, New York (2019) and Oak Hill in up­state New York (2023) – both awarded the event prior to the date change – cope with a lim­ited grow­ing sea­son.

Un­moved by the prob­a­ble loss of host venues, PGA of Amer­ica CEO Pete Be­vac­qua in­sists he is ‘ex­cited’ about the move to May. “It pro­vides our PGA Cham­pi­onship a strong land­ing spot on the cal­en­dar and a con­sis­tent ma­jor-cham­pi­onship rhythm that golf fans can em­brace,” he said last year.

An­other neg­a­tive con­se­quence of the rescheduling is that an over­seas US PGA Cham­pi­onship now seems an un­likely prospect.

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