PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan had just one priority when announcing the 10-year extension of the FedEx Cup sponsorship by the renowned courier company, complete with the predictable verbiage about financial rewards for players, the success of the FedEx Cup over its first 10 years and other good news stories.
Particularly frustrating for the cynics is that, for the most part, the sunshine stories were difficult to argue and there was really no need. In this day and age, an extension of that duration is indeed something to celebrate so release the balloons and light the candles on the cake.
Where the suspicions begin is with reports that the FedEx Cup playoffs would run throughout August, with the finale on or before Labour Day to give golf’s post-season more profile ahead of the NFL season.
Monahan would only deal in the present, that being a 2017 schedule that sees the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta being played Sept. 21-24. If, indeed, it is pushed forward to the Labour Day weekend or before, it would take at least three weeks off the current schedule.
That, of course, further condenses an already-tight tour schedule filled with majors and World Golf Championship events throughout the summer and one of the theories being floated is that the PGA Championship could move to May.
While the current schedule may stay intact for the next couple of years as Monahan pointed out, there is little doubt now that the tour would like to get the Labour Day date firmed up.
Many speculate that talks with the PGA of America about moving the PGA Championship to May might already be underway since the tour wouldn’t want to take a gamble on that potential obstacle in its quest to move up the FedEx Cup post-season.
The move to May would lead to the Players Championship, which gets underway this week at TPC Sawgrass, moving to March, when it was played until 2007. So, a major and the unofficial major could conceivably be shuffled around to accommodate this plan and if such big events can have their futures altered in such a big way, how about other tournaments?
Like say, the RBC Canadian Open?
On an already-jammed schedule, that current spot on the schedule right behind the British Open is a sore point for many, but the truth is there isn’t much else available, at least nothing that would be any better. What happens if the schedule gets even tighter?
One alternative, and not a great one for Golf Canada and RBC, would be to put the national championship up against a big event such as a World Golf Championship. How about dropping it off the PGA Tour and making it a Web .com Tour event?
Or, as former PGA Tour player Richard Zokol suggested in this chat I had with him, might RBC flex the considerable financial muscle it has with the sponsorship of the Open and RBC Heritage, not to mention Team RBC and go for making the Canadian Open a World Golf Championship or even a FedEx Cup event?
The latter would be possible if Dell Technologies ends its sponsorship after this year of the FedEx Cup event in Boston.
If RBC is to go for either a WGC or FedEx Cup event, it would eliminate such great stories such as the one provided by amateur Jared du Toit last year at Glen Abbey with all the exemptions for Canadians, other than those on tour who qualify for such events, lost in such a case.
If RBC is to go that route, it had better get going because it appears certain that the tour is determined to get FedEx maximum ROI on its investment.
Monahan, understandably, wanted to stay away from such speculation at Tuesday’s announcement that was all about FedEx and as Bill Paul, chief championship officer for Golf Canada, pointed out here, it’s too early to tell what will happen.
That’s true, but there’s little doubt that a plan is being formulated with a desire to move quickly on something that could have long-lasting effects on the national championship
It may be time for RBC and Golf Canada to get aggressive.