Golf: PGA Tour unveils revamped 2018-19 schedule with shorter play-offs

PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan speaks at the trophy presentation after the final round of The Players Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 13, 2018 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan speaks at the trophy presentation after the final round of The Players Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 13, 2018 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - A revamped PGA Tour schedule for the 2018-19 season, with a shortened play-off race and a campaign ending in August, was unveiled on Tuesday (July 10) by Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

Triggered in part by the shifting of golf's Majors with the PGA Championship moving from August to May starting in 2019, the season will end before the start of the National Football League season.

A 46-tournament schedule begins the week after the Ryder Cup in France with the Safeway Open on Oct 4-7 in Napa, California, followed by stops in Malaysia, South Korea and Shanghai among eight 2018 events, which top stars typically skip.

The season resumes in January with the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, features The Players Championship shifting to March from May to avoid the PGA Championship and again sees the Masters open the major schedule from April 11-14.

The 101st PGA Championship will be staged from May 16-19 at Bethpage Black, with the US Open four weeks later at Pebble Beach from June 13-16 and the British Open concluding the Major schedule from July 18-21 at Portrush in Northern Ireland.

The PGA play-offs will now start from Aug 8-11 with the Northern Trust, which will be played near New York in 2019 and Boston in 2020 as the cities exchange host rights each year, rather than each hosting a play-off event as they will this year.

Next year's play-offs will continue with the BMW Championship at Medinah near Chicago and conclude the following week at the Tour Championship in Atlanta on Aug 22-25.

"We're extremely pleased with the way the schedule has come together, particularly with the number of changes that were involved and the strength of the partnerships required to achieve this new look," Monahan said.

"By concluding at the end of August, the FedExCup play-offs no longer have the challenge of sharing the stage with college and professional football."

The revamp avoids tight scheduling around the season finale at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup dates as well as provides options around the Olympics, which saw golf return at the 2016 Rio Games.

The Houston Open and Greenbrier Classic will move to the fall schedule in 2019 with new US mid-west events added.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic, which replaces the Tiger Woods-hosted National near Washington, will be played on June 27-30 at Detroit and the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota will be staged the following week.

The Canadian Open will move from late July to June 6-9 as a lead-in to the US Open the following week.

The Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial tournament remains the top US Open tune-up from May 30-June 2.

The Puerto Rico Open will return after being cancelled this year due to the devastation from Hurricane Maria.

It will be held from February 21-24, the same week as the World Golf Championships (WGC) Mexico Championship.

The WGC will play in Akron, Ohio, for the final time next month as the event moves to Memphis for the WGC-St Jude Invitational, replacing a regular Tour event, next July.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill will be played the week before the Players while the WGC Match-Play Championship and a PGA event in the Dominican Republic come two weeks before the Masters, whose lead-in remains the Texas Open.

The PGA plays from May 2-5 at Quail Hollow, host of last year's PGA Championship, two weeks before next year's PGA Championship, which splits the Tour's two events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.