Date: August 08, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

US PGA date switch in train

The final men’s major championship each year will soon become its second.

Under a plan expected to be formalised overnight, the US PGA Championship will move in 2019 from its August timeslot to May, replacing the Players Championship, which will slide forward to March.

The big switch, effectively confirmed today by Charley Hoffman, a member of the US PGA Tour’s policy board, and other players, will create room for future Olympic golf programs without changing the Tour’s calendar drastically every four years.

It will also enable the season to wind up with the FedEx Cup playoffs in August, clearing the decks for the TV behemoth that the NFL season has become in the United States.

“They laid it out in front of us. First for TV negotiations, you want a Players Championship in a prime spot and maybe a better time of year for course conditioning, and then the reality is we want golf done before football (which) … runs TV in that time of year,” Hoffman reportedly said as the players converge on Quail Hollow for this year’s US PGA Championship.

“Only time will tell. Everyone was against the FedEx Cup at the start, and it’s turned into a great thing for the Tour. And I think it will be a great thing for the PGA.”

Fellow veteran Phil Mickelson concurred: “I think it will be a really good thing for the PGA, because it would be earlier on in the rotation when there is maybe more excitement for the majors.

“We get to August and that excitement kind of dwindles a little. It’s at a time of year where golf seems to linger on, so maybe there will be more energy behind the PGA earlier in the year.”

The switch and its ramifications will be outlined by PGA of America and US PGA Tour officials at Quail Hollow, the grand North Carolina host of this year’s event with so many storylines.

Can Jordan Spieth complete the career Grand Slam? Can Rory McIlroy continue his extraordinary run on this course? Will Hideki Matsuyama become the first male Japanese major champion?

And can Australia end an unusually dry spell without a player in contention on the final day of the big four?

Jason Day, defending his 2015 crown, came so close with his epic 235m 2-iron that set up a closing eagle at this event last year, but has not come close in 2017.

Nor, strangely, has his fellow Queenslander Adam Scott with Victorian Marc Leishman the leading Aussie at the past two major championships.

Throw Cam Smith, Rod Pampling and the in-form Scott Hend and our tilt could come from any number of angles. And that’s doing a disservice to yet another Queenslander – a remarkable six in all – with Texas-based Stuart Deane also pegging it up courtesy of his results in this year’s PGA Professional Championship in the United States.

With plenty on the line in terms of Presidents Cup slots and FedEx Cup playoff tilts, expect the unexpected this week from a course famous for its closing three holes – the ominously named “Green Mile”.

Two wonderfully challenging long par-fours are split by a beast of a par-three, all with water a key element. David Toms famously won here in 2003 despite a quadruple-bogey eight on the last – his six-shot lead almost evaporating on a truly challenging 72nd for any championship on a course that has been a Tour staple for years, but is hosting its first major.

TV Times – Live coverage on FoxSports 3 (AEST)

Friday: 3-11am
Saturday : 3-11am
Sunday: 4-11am
Monday: 4-11am

Australian Round 1 tee times  (AEST)

9.25pm (Thurs) Shane LOWRY, Stuart DEANE, Pablo Larrazabal
10:35pm (Thurs) Jason DAY, Dustin JOHNSON, Henrik STENSON
10:40pm (Thurs) Thomas PIETERS, Xander SCHAUFFELE, Rod PAMPLING
11:00pm (Thurs) Cameron SMITH, Bernd WIESBERGER, Brandon STONE
11:15pm (Thurs) Scott HEND, Kenny PIGMAN, Andrew JOHNSTON
03:05am (Fri) Adam SCOTT, Luke DONALD, Webb SIMPSON
03:20am (Fri) Danny LEE, Marc LEISHMAN, Anirban LAHIRI