Even as azaleas and dogwoods are blooming, it’s worth noting The Players Championship is six weeks away. That’s how much time the PGA Tour has remaining to put the finishing touches on a major shift in the golf calendar.
Commissioner Jay Monahan has said his goal is to announce the 2018-19 schedule at The Players the second full week in May. That might sound ambitious, but the fall, winter and spring portions of the schedule have come together.
The biggest change is the PGA Championship moving from August to May, with The Players going to March and the FedEx Cup ending on Labor Day right before the start of the NFL season. There remain sponsorship holes to solve in Texas (Houston, Colonial) and a few moving parts with the FedEx St. Jude Classic taking over as a World Golf Championship for Firestone.
The start of 2019 should look familiar – two stops in Hawaii, the California desert, Torrey Pines, Phoenix, Pebble Beach and Riviera. The Mexico Championship would follow Los Angeles. That means the PGA Tour will have an uninterrupted Florida swing again – the Honda Classic, Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Players Championship and the Valspar Championship on March 21-24 (the tournament already has posted its dates).
Then it’s off to Texas for the Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin and the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, which replaces Houston as the pre-Masters stop.
As for the moving parts?
The PGA Championship will be May 16-19 at Bethpage Black in 2019, which is certain to disrupt the Texas swing.
The AT&T Byron Nelson is likely to precede the PGA Championship and Colonial would be on the other side of the PGA. Houston would get another pre-major spot on the calendar, this time before the U.S. Open. The week before the U.S. Open had belonged to the St. Jude Classic since 2007, but next year it becomes a World Golf Championship and is likely to be played the first weekend in August.
One more piece of the puzzle is a new tournament.
This likely is the final year of The National in the Washington, D.C., area, which dates to 2007 and is run by the Tiger Woods Foundation. The replacement could be either Detroit or Minnesota.
According to three people involved in the discussions, sponsorship is coming together for a new event in Detroit, while the 3M Championship at the TPC Twin Cities (currently a PGA Tour Champions event) wants a spot on the PGA Tour schedule. The people spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the proposals are not finalized.
There’s one other potential wrinkle to the end. The FedEx Cup playoffs will be three tournaments instead of four, and while this is the final year of the playoff event at the TPC Boston (previously Deutsche Bank, currently Dell Technologies Championship), it might not be the end of Boston.
One possibility the tour is exploring is for The Northern Trust to alternate between the New York area (such as Liberty National) and Boston.