CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The PGA Championship moving to May in 2019 will cause the biggest change to the golf schedule in more than a decade.
Still to be determined is just how much.
The PGA of America confirmed Tuesday that its major championship is leaving the mid-summer date it has had for some 50 years. It will be played a week after Mother’s Day, giving it a spot between the Masters and the U.S. Open.
Pete Bevacqua, the PGA of America’s chief executive, said the move would be good for the championship, the players and its association of club professionals.
"We feel May is a far more powerful date for us to contest our major championship," Bevacqua said.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said The Players Championship would be returning to March, its traditional spot on the golf calendar, in 2019.
But that’s all he could say at the moment.
The Associated Press reported Monday that the tour wants to finish the FedEx Cup around Labor Day, before the NFL season begins. The PGA Championship shifting away from August allows that to happen, and the FedEx Cup playoffs are expected to have three events instead of four starting in 2019.
And while the changes give golf big events in every month from March through July, still to be determined is what PGA Tour events fall in around them.
"There are a number of dominos and there are a number of other decisions we need to make, and as you can imagine, there’s a fair amount of complexity within that and we have a number of constituents we have to work with," Monahan said. "When we have more specifics, we’ll come back and make those announcements. We’re just not far enough along in our process to be able to say definitively where we are."
The PGA Championship began its run of August dates in 1969, and so much has changed since then.
The Players Championship began in 1974, and it has become what PGA Tour players consider to be the fifth major. The PGA Tour added the Presidents Cup in 1994, giving Americans a team competition every year with the Ryder Cup. The World Golf Championships began in 1999 with three events featuring big prize money.
The biggest change was the FedEx Cup in 2007, which concluded with four playoff events just two weeks after the PGA Championship, offering a $10 million bonus to the winner. Following that was the PGA Tour’s move to a wraparound schedule (the new season starting in October), and then golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016.
Bevacqua said the PGA of America analyzed the move to May for some eight months.
"We come back to the unavoidable reality that the landscape in August is changing, and it’s changing because of the Olympics," Bevacqua said. "It’s changing because of contemplated alterations to the FedEx Cup."
Other changes were more immediate.
The European Tour’s flagship event — the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth — typically is played the last week in May. If it stayed there, that would mean one week after the PGA Championship and three weeks before the U.S. Open.
Just after a few hours before the PGA Tour and PGA of America signed their deals to move, the European Tour announced that it would move in 2019 to September, which tour chief Keith Pelley called a more favourable date.
"This is a new chapter for the event, but we expect similar interest in the autumn, as was shown historically by the World Match Play Championship when it was played at Wentworth Club at that time of the year," Pelley said.
The 2019 PGA Championship is schedule for Bethpage Black on New York’s Long Island, with 2022 headed for Trump National in New Jersey and 2023 at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York. As for more northern sites, such as Hazeltine in Minnesota and Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Bevacqua said, "We are taking nothing off the table at this point."
The Senior PGA Championship will stay in May, played one week after the PGA Championship. He also said the Professional National Championship will move from June to April because the top 20 professionals qualify for the PGA Championship.