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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

PGA Championship: Competition moves to May in 2019, Players to March

Moving championship dates will allow the US PGA to conclude its playoffs before the popular NFL and collegiate American football telecasts dominate US sports viewership

The schedule change, unveiled two days before the 99th PGA event is contested at Quail Hollow, comes after years of discussion.

Moving the PGA Championship from its typical August date to May starting in 2019 will help players and boost the event and the sport, PGA of America chief executive Pete Bevacqua said Tuesday.

The schedule change, unveiled two days before the 99th PGA event is contested at Quail Hollow, comes after years of discussion and was pushed by golf's return to the Olympics in 2016, which compacts the current schedule every four years.

"It's in the best interests of the PGA Championship," Bevacqua said. "We feel it's in the best interests of the players around the world."

"For an organization whose strategic mission is to grow this game, we feel May is a far more powerful date for us."

In a related move, the US PGA Players Championship staged at the TPC Sawgrass layout in Florida will return to its March date after being played in May since 2007.

Bevacqua said the PGA of America had been working on the issue for four years to help boost the event, sport and player schedules.

"We come back to the unavoidable reality that the landscape in August is changing, and it's changing because of the Olympics," Bevacqua said.

"We feel the television markets in general are stronger in May and we are 100 percent confident that we can continue to go to the great golf courses where we have brought this championship."

"And it opens up other parts of the country. It's more comfortable in Florida. It's more comfortable in Texas."

July's British Open will now become the final major championship of every season, with the Masters in early April, the PGA in late May, the US Open in June and then the British Open.

The Players will serve as a Masters tuneup in March and the US PGA Tour playoffs likely will serve as a finale in August and early September. That could force shifts in other events on the US schedule.

"There are a number of dominos and a number of other decisions we need to make," said US PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. "When we have more specifics we'll come back and make those announcements. We're just not far enough along in our process."

Ryder Cup date flexibility

The PGA has been played in nine different months since its 1916 inception and has been the last major of the season from 1959 through this year except for a one-off move in 1971.

The 100th PGA Championship will be staged next August at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis as planned.

Bethpage Black will host the 101st edition from May 16-19 in 2019, the first PGA to be played in May since Sam Snead's 1949 triumph at Richmond, Virginia.

"We are excited about this move to May," said Bevacqua. "It provides our PGA Championship a strong landing spot on the calendar and a consistent major rhythm that golf fans can embrace."

The move will allow the US PGA to conclude its season before the popular NFL and collegiate American football telecasts dominate US sports viewership in September.

"We expect these moves will help us to grow our fan base as we move forward," Monahan said.

They could open the door for earlier playing of the Ryder Cup in future years than late September and early October.

"It does open up the door to potentially talk about changing the date, not significantly, but a bit perhaps with the Ryder Cup down the road," Bevacqua said, noting talks about the change included the Royal and Ancient as well as the US Golf Association and Augusta National Golf Club.

No non-US PGA coming soon

Bevacqua also said staging a PGA outside the United States, taking major golf to new global frontiers, has been discussed for years but won't happen in the next decade.

"We have considered that in the past and have analyzed that," he said. "Whereas we talked initially about potentially having an international PGA Championship, our focus now in terms of global growth is squarely on education and employment.

"Will we ever do an international PGA Championship? I think the answer is not in the next 10 years but it's something we will always consider because potentially at the right time it could be an interesting move."



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