PGA Tour
By Kevin Currie, Golf Editor - Archive - Email
Can the PGA Tour rework schedule?
FedExCup The PGA Tour needs to take a long look at its' schedule for the coming
years if it wants to avoid the best players skipping FedExCup playoffs events.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The general public doesn't like to hear millionaire golfers complain about fatigue from playing several events in a row.

That isn't hard labor, many would argue. They're playing for first-place paychecks that are greater than some will make in their lifetimes others would say. There are plenty of other anecdotes people could talk about when politely telling golfers to can it.

The reality is the PGA Tour needs to take a long look at its' schedule for the coming years if it wants to avoid the best players skipping FedExCup playoffs events.

The former Fall Series is now the start of the schedule in October and November. Those events rarely, if ever, saw big names competing and the tour itself admitted that it didn't want to go against football.

Yet, those Fall Series events were good for rookies, those struggling with their games and those battling to keep their tour cards because the big names weren't there. But now there are FedExCup points to be gained at those events, so some top players are playing.

The 2013-14 tour schedule began on October 10, 2013 and ends this Sunday, September 14. There were just five weeks off, from the last week of November through the end of December. Once the calendar flipped to 2014, the tour started immediately, played every week and there were a few weeks with two events.

With the Ryder Cup coming in two weeks, this year's FedExCup playoffs were played four straight weeks, which is far from ideal, and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said so.

The 2014-15 schedule is out and there is an off week during the playoffs, but that does nothing for guys like Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Bill Haas, Russell Henley, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Geoff Ogilvy, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth, who are all playing this week for the eighth time in nine weeks.

If that wasn't enough, Chris Kirk and Jimmy Walker are competing for the ninth time in 10 weeks as they play the Tour Championship.

Topping them all is Morgan Hoffmann. Sure, he missed the Open Championship and the PGA Championship, but this is still Hoffmann's 10th tournament in 11 weeks thanks to one of those opposite events.

What makes it harder for Fowler, Furyk, Johnson, Mahan, Reed, Simpson, Spieth and Walker is that they travel to Scotland to play the Ryder Cup after one short week off.

I know, I know. These guys are traveling mostly in private jets so don't feel too badly for them. But they also are recovering from a short week at altitude as they head to East Lake. The Deutsche Bank Championship, which was played outside of Boston, finished on Labor Day and the BMW Championship, in Denver, started that Thursday.

Is there anything that can be done? Obviously, no one wants to take away tournaments from the schedule, but that may need to happen. When do you reach the point of too many events?

There are few solutions, but the biggest events need to be spread out better.

There are eight weeks between the Masters and the U.S. Open. Then, the stretch from the U.S. Open to the PGA Championship is just nine weeks. In a 9-week stretch, that is three major championships and a World Golf Championship. After the PGA, there is one event before the FedExCup playoffs (four events if a player makes the Tour Championship) begin.

That is too compact.

The U.S. Open and the PGA Championship rotate venues across the country. If that is to continue, they both need to be played between mid-May and August to keep states like Minnesota, Washington, Oregon and New York, to name a few, in the mix for those championships.

An easy answer would be to move the PGA Championship to, say, May. That could take some courses out of the running to host the event however. Could the WGC- Bridgestone Invitational, which is played the week before the PGA, be moved? Possibly, but it is played in Ohio and couldn't be played earlier than mid-May to get the course in proper condition.

You could move tournaments on the schedule. Some could change states, but if the tour wants the FedExCup playoffs to end in September, something has to give eventually.

It is clear the tour wants the Tour Championship completed before the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. These are all things the tour is looking at, and more. Don't forget the tour is taking two weeks off when golf returns to the Olympics in 2016.

Finding sponsors and top courses to play on is hard enough at times. Juggling these issues makes it that much more difficult to have the tour run smoothly.

If the tour could work two or three off weeks into the schedule, you would hear a lot less complaining from the players.

MINI-TIDBITS

- Speaking of schedule woes, Phil Mickelson withdrew from the BMW Championship after two rounds last week because of fatigue. He wasn't playing well enough, and needed a good finish to make it to the Tour Championship. Mickelson instead opted to withdraw, get some rest and prepare himself for the Ryder Cup.

- Golf Channel reported that Jason Dufner is planning to return to action at the Perth International in late October. Dufner will reportedly follow with three straight events in Asia in the following weeks.