When the National Football League added a 17th game to their regular season and moved the league calendar a week deeper into February, it certainly caused some problems for the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing.
The PGA Tour last week showed what it can do about the challenge of playing events against an extra week of the NFL, and unfortunately there is no evidence for the tour that there isn’t much that can be done.
With the release of the 2021-22 schedule for the Pro Tour, only one change has been made to the West Coast Swing. The Waste Management Phoenix Open, which traditionally took place on the same weekend as the Super Bowl, will be postponed a week later in the season and will be played against the Super Bowl on February 13th. The Phoenix tournament is considering its party on the court during the week at TPC Scottsdale to have enough traction to hold its own against the Super Bowl.
To accommodate the move, the AT&T Pebble Beach tournament, which certainly didn’t want to be played on the weekend of the Super Bowl, has been postponed a week earlier to February 6th, the award-winning open week between the AFC and NFC championship games and the Super Bowl. But there is still bad news for two West Coast events.
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One is the American Express in La Quinta. For most years, this tournament was played over the weekend of the two Conference Championship Games, which means that the Sunday finals at PGA West would be played at the same time as the two games that determine the Super Bowl teams. Now American Express will watch the NFL play two games on Saturday and two games on Sunday in the same week as the La Quinta event.
A tough lot for some tournaments
The Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, which was not only the first tournament of the calendar year on CBS, but was also played the empty week before the Super Bowl, will now face the Sunday conflict with the AFC and NFC championship games. That, in turn, will be a problem for CBS as leading golf announcer Jim Nantz is sure to proclaim the AFC championship instead of golf this weekend.
There were other fascinating things that you may have overlooked in the tour schedule announcement. For example:
The end of the Golf World Cup ?: Well, maybe not quite the end, but a significant change. Instead of four WGC events, there will only be two, the WGC-Dell Match Play event in March and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. The WGC event in Mexico is no longer referred to as a WGC event, although a tournament continues to be held in Mexico, and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude’s tournament, held just last weekend, is now the first event in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Co-sanctioned events: The PGA Tour says the WGC events may not be needed as much as the men’s game becomes more global. Well, that could be seen in response to the threat posed by the Premier Golf League, which hasn’t hosted an event yet but has caused a stir in men’s golf by promising to bring more top players together more often. The same applies to the PGA Tour’s announcement of three new jointly sponsored tournaments as part of the strategic alliance between the PGA Tour and the European Tour.
These events are the Scottish Open, which are usually played the week before the British Open, the Barbasol Championship and the Barracuda Championship. At these events, players from both tournaments will now appear and points will be awarded for the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Race to Dubai season of the European Tour. The Scottish Open and Barbasol Championship will be played in the same week and the Barracuda Championship will be played opposite the British Open.
There are a few other little things that have changed for the 2021-22 schedule. A few tournaments will be happier and a few tournaments will not be happy at all. But shuffle on the West Coast Swing and opening up more opportunities for global golf are certainly the highlights. And it could be the start of more mixing in the years to come.
Larry Bohannan is the golf writer for The Desert Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com or (760) 778-4633. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @larry_Bohannan. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Desert Sun.