One of the biggest and most highly anticipated tournaments in the season, the last PGA Championship concluded only in August. While golf enthusiasts around the world expected to wait another year to witness this season’s PGA, it came as a surprise to many that it has now been moved up to May. Normally the fourth tournament in golf’s major championship rotation, the schedule move has now made PGA the second out of four annual events right after the Masters in April.
The big move from August to May certainly has gotten people buzzing — especially the pros, who will have to make adjustments in schedules and prep.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2019 PGA Championship and the move to May.
This year’s PGA Championship, which started in 1916, will be the 101st playing of the tournament. The championship is the only one out of the four majors that does not explicitly invite amateurs and is almost exclusive to professional players, often based off the Official World Golf Ranking. Amateurs are allowed to join however, if they’ve won one of the other major championships.
Pete Bevacqua, the chief executive of the PGA of America, told the New York Times that one of the major reasons for the schedule shift was the reintroduction of golf at the Olympics.
“The landscape of golf is changing and it’s changing because of the Olympics,” he said to the New York Times. “We think that this is in the best interests of the PGA of America and the PGA Championship to make this move to position us for the next hundred years of the PGA Championship.”
Golf was reintroduced back to the Olympics in 2016 at Rio de Janeiro while the last time the sport was in the Olympic line-up was in 1904 — an enormous 112-year gap. Next year, the Olympics hosted by Tokyo will be held in July.
This year, the PGA Championship will be played at the Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York on Long Island. It will be the first time this tournament will be held on this course.
Bethpage Black, also known as the Black course, was designed by renowned golf architect A.W. Tillinghast and is often said to be one of the toughest spots of the course with thick roughs, long par fours, and deep bunkers.
In a serendipitous stroke of luck, the decision for the move coincided with one of the most remarkable events in the history of golf. The Masters tournament held in April this year saw Tiger Woods claim his fifth Masters win and 15th major title, his first in 11 years. Woods, after overcoming career threatening back problems, pulled off what many are calling it one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
The excitement and buzz around Woods’ performance is definitely making him one of the favourites entering the PGA Championship and fans will now be able to see the story unfold months earlier than expected.
Another talked about player in the PGA Championship is Brooks Koepka. Koepka is last year’s defending PGA Champion, beating Tiger Woods by only 2 par. He has also won three out of his last seven majors as well as finished in the top 25 of the last thirteen.
For this major however, we definitely can’t count out the dozens of other talented players looking for their first win. After all, first-time major champions won ten out of the last 14 tournaments. There is simply no shortage of skill in this year’s roster, and the community is thrilled to watch it unfold in May.
The What Now?
It’s unquestionable that the big move to May will impact the players’ preparation for the tournament.
To take for example: both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the game’s most seasoned players, arrived at Bethpage Black a week early — a rare occurrence for top professionals, save for the unfamiliar course visit here and there.
Plenty of other players such as Justin Rose have had to re-evaluate their schedules and timings, especially given that the PGA Championship now happens right after the Masters in April and the Wells Fargo Championship in early May.
“I think the flow of the run-up this year, the preparation didn't really click,” Rose said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports. “Because of that, you know, ultimately kind of burned out a little bit too quick. … I think my preparation going into the PGA has changed because of the run-up into Augusta.”
Other players are taking notice and adjusting as well.
Both Woods and 2017 PGA Champion Justin Thomas skipped out on the Wells Fargo Championship altogether, a tournament they rarely missed in the past. Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, and Xander Schauffele also have not played since a week after Masters.
Perhaps what’s critical to understand about this schedule change is that now, a major happens every four weeks as opposed to having a two-month gap between the Masters and U.S Open (originally the second major of the season.) This puts players in a position where they have to calibrate their balance between training, preparation, and recharging.
What’s clear however is that throughout unfolding stories and preparations, the PGA Championship’s move to May has definitely caused more than a ripple in the sport’s calendar and everyone is thrilled to see what happens next.
Stream the 2019 PGA Championship on FOX+!