What will PGA Tour rescheduling mean for the European Tour?
Out of Bounds: US PGA moving to May could help put more focus on the Race to Dubai
Fans look on as Brooks Koepka hits a shot during a practice round prior to the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
Irish legs are clearly not for show, certainly not in the case of either Pádraig Harrington or Shane Lowry.
Although the PGA of America has relaxed the ruling to allow players to wear shorts through the practice days here at Quail Hollow ahead of the 99th US PGA Championship, you’ll be glad to know that neither gentleman exposed their lower limbs to the public. No walking white stakes were put on display!
That decision by the PGA of America – in anticipation of the temperatures and humidity in these parts at this time of the year which can threaten the mercury in any barometer – was, in the great scheme of things, an easy one to make.
But, then, so too was the one which will likely have a more seismic effect on the golfing calendar: that to bring the US PGA forward in the schedule from the traditional August date (which has been in place since 1972) to a new slot in May. The upshot of that decision was immediate, with The Players vacating its May date to an earlier one in March, starting in 2019; and the European Tour’s flagship, the BMW PGA Championship, moving all the way back to September, also commencing in two years time.
All this moving and shaking has been brought about because of golf’s inclusion in the Olympics, with the PGA of America – rightly – taking the view that shunting the US PGA back and forward every four years was too much of an inconvenience, and that the opportunity to change should be grasped with both hands.
In a way, you wonder why it hadn’t happened before. The move makes for a more streamlined season – certainly on the PGA Tour – with a run of big events right through the summer, which is the meat of the season. The knock-on effect is that the PGA Tour’s play-offs, the megabucks FedEx Cup, can be brought forward to possibly conclude by the end of August.
But there are other potential changes in the offing too. For instance, there is a likelihood the Ryder Cup could be staged earlier (possibly in early September) which, certainly when it is held in Europe, provides more daylight hours and the prospect of better weather than the current date which crossovers the end of September into October.
Almost by default, though, the big winner could yet prove to be the European Tour. Although the moving and shaking in bringing the US PGA forward to May and the domino knock-on effect of pushing The Players forward to March had little to do with the European Tour, it actually means the Rolex Series and the Race to Dubai finale could be strengthened with more American players tempted to extend their seasons in Europe.
In effect, the European Tour can not only make the best of a bad lot, but may yet turn the whole deal in their favour.