Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Frys.com Open to Headline Revamped PGA Tour schedule

24 January, 2012: PGA Tour officials announced a major change in the Tour’s schedule for the 2013-2014 season at a player’s meeting at Torrey Pines this evening: the PGA Tour will shift the beginning of the season from a January, calendar-year start, to an autumn start, with the Frys.com Open as the season-opening event.

The change is significant for the San Francisco Bay Area’s golf scene, as the move is likely to bring more top players to the event, which is held at CordeValle Resort, south of San José. The Frys.com Open is currently a Fall Series event, one of four late-season events that take place after the FedEx Cup Playoffs have signaled the end of the regular PGA Tour season. Fall Series events carry no FedEx Cup points, and their fields have historically been populated largely by players taking a last stab at bolstering their position on the money list, or at climbing back into the sacred Top 125/150 in order to assure themselves playing privileges for the upcoming year.

Under the new schedule the PGA Tour season will conclude with the FedEx Cup Championship in Atlanta, and instead of comprising an adjunct series pasted onto the end of the season, the (former) Fall Series tournaments, headed up by the Frys.com Open, will be the opening salvo of the new season, and their results will count toward the FedEx Cup. It is the altered status as members of the FedEx Cup Championship which will make a difference for the former Fall Series events; no longer marginalized as second-tier tournaments with no bearing on the points race for the $10-million dollar prize awaiting the winner of the FedEx Cup, the four events—the Frys.com Open, the Shriners, the McGladrey, and the Disney—will be more attractive to the full Tour membership.

The Tournament of Champions, the traditional season opener for many years, will no longer hold that distinction—but it will still feel like a season opener, as the Tour will take a six to eight week break at the end of the calendar year before resuming play in early January with the “Aloha Season”—the ToC and the Sony Open, both contested in Hawaii. Play continues from there with the return to the mainland for the traditional West Coast Swing: the Humana Challenge (formerly the Bob Hope Desert Classic), the Farmers Insurance Open (formerly the Buick Open & about a dozen other names over the years), the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the AT&T Pro-Am (formerly the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am), and the Northern Trust (Los Angeles) Open.

The change in schedule will also integrate two existing semi-official tournaments in Malaysia and China, played before the end-of-year break, into the PGA Tour schedule as fully-vested Tour events – a signal that the PGA Tour is taking the globalization of the sport more seriously.

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