Golfers begin slog with barely three weeks' break

LOS ANGELES • It will be only 18 days since Rory McIlroy was crowned FedEx Cup champion when the new US PGA Tour season's opening event, the Greenbrier Classic, tees off in West Virginia today.

With the calendar even more crowded thanks to the golf event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the tournament will be the first of 49 official FedExCup events, of which 11 will be played between now and late November as part of the so-called "wraparound" season.

World No. 10 Bryson DeChambeau heads the field in West Virginia. The event will be followed by four more in the US before the Tour crosses the Pacific for a three-event Asian swing with tournaments in South Korea, China and the new Zozo Championship in Japan, which replaces Kuala Lumpur's CIMB Classic on the calendar.

McIlroy and Tiger Woods are among a host of top names already signed up to play in Japan.

The top American and International players will be active until just before Christmas owing to the Dec 12-15 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in Australia, and after a short break the 2020 campaign will roll on at a relentless pace.

From late February till late August there is a top event nearly every other week, with the July 30-Aug 2 Olympic golf competition jammed in just two weeks after the British Open, and two weeks before the start of the FedExCup playoffs.

The new season will also mark the introduction of random testing of players' drivers to ensure they are legal.

The game's international governing body, the R&A, tested drivers at the British Open in July and found Xander Schauffele's to be non-conforming, but the PGA Tour until now has not conducted tests.

Yet to be unveiled by the Tour is a new pace-of-play policy, which is being reviewed following complaints about slow play and after a video of DeChambeau taking more than two minutes to line up a putt at a tournament in August went viral.

While world No. 1 Brooks Koepka and No. 2 McIlroy will have heavy schedules, Woods is again expected to carry a lighter load.

The 43-year-old has played only three non-Majors since winning the Masters in April, and recent knee surgery suggests he will be just as sparing in his appearances in the new season.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2019, with the headline 'Golfers begin slog with barely three weeks' break'. Print Edition | Subscribe