CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA — The announcement that from 2019 onwards the PGA Championship is to move from August to May and the Players from May to mid-March may have made perfect sense to those to the west of the Atlantic. It wasn’t so long ago that the Players was held in mid-March anyway. And the PGA has been held in nine different calendar months so moving it from August to three months earlier was no big deal.
But it made less sense to those on the east of the Atlantic, notably the European Tour. May traditionally has been the month of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth where the tour’s headquarters are. That event has been described as the ET’s flagship event. This year’s was the first of the eight-event Rolex Series and 110,000 spectators flocked to Wentworth during the course of the week.
To date, this most important event in the European calendar has coexisted in the fifth month of the year with the Players, a most important event in golf in the US. Those Europeans based in the US such as Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson had time to tangle with the near-island green at TPC Sawgrass and clamber on to a plane that would get them back to Blighty in time for the BMW-PGA.
This might still have been possible in 2019 except that, seeing the two organisations in the US reorganise their schedules in tandem and feeling the resulting wash from the ripples that spread outwards from the US, the European Tour decided to move the BMW-PGA to September. Did the tour want to? Probably not. Did the tour have to? Probably.
“Significant changes to the golfing calendar have given us the opportunity to move the BMW-PGA … to a more favourable date from 2019 onwards” said Keith Pelley, chief executive of the ET.
It is possible that Wentworth’s West course will be in better condition in September than it sometimes has been in May. There will have been more time for growth on both fairways and greens.
So the ET has salvaged something they are saying – and no doubt hoping – is satisfactory from a situation that was foisted on them. Good for the European Tour.