The new schedule changes have left a number of Tour pros with a lot to think about going into 2019. By Lewis Blain.
New Tour Schedule Brings About Tough Decisions For Players
The newly revamped Major, PGA and European Tour schedules have left players with tough decisions to make on where and when they play this season.
A number of events have been moved around in order to condense the schedule whilst the FedEx Cup has received a big boost with the doubling of its bonus pool to $70m.
The marquee change sees the USPGA Championship move from August to May, with the Players moving from May to March.
This has forced the BMW PGA Championship to move from its traditional May spot to September.
The FedEx Cup Playoffs, now just three tournaments instead of four, will also end in August instead of September to ensure that the PGA Tour season concludes before the NFL season gets underway.
Prior to this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii, Australian Adam Scott explained the difficulties he will face with his schedule this year, revealing that he may skip all four WGCs.
“I just kind of took the simple approach and thought I’ll just play the ones I like and that make sense to play out of the way,” he said.
“Any inconvenience, whether it’s a big tournament or not. I don’t know how everyone can define a big tournament differently, but at the moment I have not scheduled a World Golf Championship because they don’t fall in the right weeks for me.”
At the beginning of the year, four-time major winner Rory McIlroy described the European Tour as a ‘stepping stone’ as he looks to have put a focus on playing more in America.
It is likely that the Northern Irishman won’t tee it up on the European Tour until at least July for the run of links golf going into the 148th Open Championship.
He may also give up his European Tour card for 2019 and pick it back up again in 2020 for the Ryder Cup.
“The PGA Tour has better fields, deeper fields and golf courses that probably suit my game a little bit more,” explained McIlroy
“I want to play against the best players in the world. I get a buzz from that. I’d much rather go down the stretch against Justin Thomas or Dustin Johnson.”
This will be the first time in McIlroy’s career that he has not started the year on the European Tour.
McIlroy’s decision has come about due to the changes, which sees him want to focus more on the PGA Tour’s March – August season beginning with his title defence at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a week before The Players.
2017 USPGA Champion Justin Thomas bemoaned the fact that he will not be able to attend a number of events that he is eager to play.
“There’s five or six or seven events I would love to play and I want to play, but it just doesn’t work out in the schedule, which is a bummer and I would hope tournament directors understand that, that events that I’m not playing in,” said Thomas.
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“The perfect example in the past has been the Wyndham. I think the Wyndham is one of the greatest events that the Tour puts on and they’re such a great, it’s such an old event, they go back so long playing there at Sedgefield and I love the golf course, Mark Brazil puts on an unbelievable event, everybody does, and it’s just so hard, in the past, going, it went Akron, PGA, Wyndham and then Playoffs and it’s like you just can’t play six, seven in a row.”
Masters champion Patrick Reed has averaged a little over 30 events per season since 2013 – more than a lot of the world’s top-20 in the rankings. He is one of the players actually in favour of the condensed schedule.
“I mean there might be a couple spots where in the past I might have played a certain event, but now I might not be playing that event because I’ll be playing one later on. But the actual amount of events is not changing for me. It’s going to be around the same number. It’s just it’s spread out a little better for me.”
Another player that the schedule works for this year is Brooks Koepka. He will be looking to defend his two Majors but this time around it will be the USPGA Championship at Bethpage Black in May before the US Open in June – just one of the many changes to the schedule.
He said: “I still like the events that I play. Most of them are pretty much the same thing. I haven’t switched it up too much.
“Obviously the timing of it might be a little different. I like to play the weeks before majors, big events like The Players, things like that.
“And I think it actually kind of works in my advantage that way, having a good solid four months there of, you need to be dialed in on those four months with the majors and The Players, I think that’s extremely important. And to have it so close together, if you get on a hot run, you might be able to pop off all five.”
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