T.W.I.G — new PGA Tour schedule, LPGA Marathon Classic, Tiger v. Phil

If you are a regular PGA Tour watcher, your calendar notes certain events. The first major is in April at Augusta. The last one is the PGA Championship every August. You are likely aware of other tournaments that fit nicely into everyone’s schedule including your own TV chart.

Well, get ready for some changes. The 2018-19 PGA Tour schedule has been announced and some “major” changes are in the offing.

The main catalyst behind the change seems to be FedEx. They sponsor the season ending Tour playoffs and apparently they want to try to increase their own TV exposure. The four week playoffs have been held in September and it seems many people would prefer to watch football — college and professional.

So the powers to be decided to move up the end of the golf “season” to August. To do so would involve shuffling some tournaments and it wasn’t just the small ones that got moved.

The PGA Championship will be moved to May. The “like a major” Players Championship will now be played in March. The playoffs have been reduced to three weeks, but will finish before the football season begins in earnest.

One advantage to this new resume is that golf fans will have a big tournament each month. The Players will lead things off in March. The Masters retains its April date, with the PGA following in May. The U.S. Open is played in June and the British Open in July. The playoffs will then occur in August.

The biggest winner in this is probably FedEx. They will get more bang for their buck. Some players may like the changes, some won’t. For most golf fans the reaction is likely to be … whatever!

The LPGA Tour is at Highland Meadows this week. I have been to this event a couple of times and if you have not been there, by all means go. The ladies can hit a golf ball and they tend to be very nice. Though I did not make the event this year, I have some great past memories.

My buddy and I stood near the practice green one year and had a little conversation with Natalie Gulbis. She dropped three balls right in front of where we were standing and proceeded to chip one in from some 60 feet. We complimented her and she was very gracious.

We decided to follow her group, which included Paula Creamer, for some six holes before stopping and watching some other groups play a par 3. On the second hole, we managed to talk to the young man that was carrying the scoring pylon. He told us that Creamer was “on” and he was correct. I’m not sure how he knew after a hole and a half, but my goodness he knew what he was talking about.

We picked the group back up for the last six holes and Creamer was indeed on fire. She flirted with the magic number 59 before “settling” for a 60. It was an incredible round of golf and I got to see most of her amazing shots.

I also managed to run into Richard Petty who was making a guest appearance at the tournament. Shaking hands with the King of Nascar will always be a special memory for me. Seriously, who would have thought that one could meet Richard Petty at an LPGA event?

I just read about a made for TV event that involves Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. It seems the plan is to televise an 18-hole match between the two with the winner getting a cool $10,000,000. The author of the article had the phrase “what’s not to love” in his title.

So I got to thinking if I would be interested in watching the thing. My first thought was only if there were no Big Bang Theory reruns available at the same time. Seriously, I don’t think I would watch it unless there was a major change in the format. Let me see if I can convince you that the change I desire would make it more interesting to tune in.

A number of years ago I was listening to a discussion about pressure in sports. One person suggested that there was no greater pressure than driving a race car into the first turn at Indianapolis Motor Speedway side-by-side at nearly 225 miles per hour. The guy did make a good point. One little mistake and the result could be very serious.

Golfer Lee Trevino had an answer to that however, citing his early golf career. He said, “True pressure is when you need to make a six-foot putt on the last hole to win a $4 bet when you only have $2 in your pocket.” Trevino’s point is well taken, depending of course on whom (or how big) your opponent is.

So here’s my suggestion. Let Tiger and Lefty put up their own money. The way it is now, the winner gets $10 million. The loser gets to play a round of golf on a nice course. Try this one on: the winner gets $10 million, the loser LOSES $10 million!

With that kind of pressure, you bet I’d watch.

Al Stephenson is The A-T bowling columnist.

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