Sports

Scheduling problems hit global golf stars

V Krishnaswamy Nassau | Updated on November 29, 2018 Published on November 29, 2018

Tiger Woods plays 18 events on the Tours, one of the most he has done in ages

PGA Tour for 2019 re-jigged again and no one is certain

The intensity of the competition, the workloads and the travel in between, not to mention sponsor commitments have made most of the global stars in golf cut down on their schedules and that’s on the main PGA Tour, which is their bread and butter. The cake usually comes in the form of a couple of appearances in other parts of the world — the Middle East, Asia, Japan and Australia.

The new schedule that the PGA Tour unveiled for 2019 has re-jigged it all once more. And, no one is certain how it is going to pan out.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said earlier this year: “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 PGA Tour became slightly shorter to ensure golf no longer competes with the ratings of college and professional football. The PGA season concludes August end, rather than pushing into September with three instead of four FedExCup play-off events. So, the PGA Tour sorted out its problems. But what about the players?

That means the ‘silly’ (post) season begins soon after the FedExCup and that includes sure-money (limited field events with no cuts) in Asia (South Korea, China and Japan). Then there are the Fall season events on the PGA Tour which count towards the following year in what has now become a wrap-around season.

The Asian events plus Japan and Australia bring in good appearance fees.

But what happens on the main Tour back home — in PGA for most and in Europe for some others.

Big-ticket events

Woods plays 18 events on the Tours, one of the most he has done in ages — usually his older figures of 19-21 will include appearances in Asia or elsewhere. Not this time.

The PGA Tour has packed the big-ticket events between end-February to mid-June which will now see three Majors, two WGCs and THE PLAYERS plus some big Tour events. The FedExCup play-offs are done by August. While the big guns in the US can put up their feet – sure they do have Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup in alternate years – most other post-season events are about fattening bank accounts.

For Europeans on PGA Tour, it is harder — they need to get back to Europe to play Rolex series events this year as five of the eight Rolex events will be after the Tour Championships.

Woods, who started the new season at his own Hero World Challenge, was clear, as he said, “The only events set in stone are Genesis and the Majors.” He will certainly feature in way fewer Tour events than in 2018.

For Stenson, it is about playing the PGA Tour till the FedExCup, and then to keep his membership in Europe, he turns attention to Europe. He said, “I think for me it (changes) actually made it harder on the PGA Tour because in a way changing the PGA (Championship) from early August and putting that into the spring would actually occupy a tournament that I potentially could have played before.”

“It’s going to be pretty packed for me. It’s going to be a lot of golf, but I’ll be ready for it.”

Tough balancing act

Fowler, the reigning Hero champion, still has a maiden Major as his big goal but he also wants to win to keep up his status as world star. He said, “It is quite different having THE PLAYERS there in March. I know Farmers there, and then may take a couple weeks off, pick it up in Mexico. Then Florida, I think it goes Honda, Arnie (Arnold Palmer), PLAYERS, so it is interesting.” He could miss some of his favourite events, but play where he usually does not.

So out of the 52 weeks, the big boys play around 20-22, maybe going up as much as 24-25. But the key is to get the scheduling right between PGA and Europe and then money-making post-season events. That is a tough balancing act.

Then there is that task of keeping fit, staying clear of injuries and checking new or old equipment besides keeping the sponsors, not to speak of their wealth managers, happy.

Life is never easy for those who don’t have it. It’s the same for those who have it all including private jets.

Published on November 29, 2018
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