US PGA Tour books 50 events for 2020-21 season despite virus


Washington (AFP)

US PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced Wednesday a 50-event "super season" for the 2020-21 schedule, including 14 tournaments canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The current campaign ends with the Tour Championship that tees off Friday at East Lake in Atlanta and the 2020-21 season debuts next week with the Safeway Open in Napa, California.

The 50-event calendar, one greater than the original plan for 2019-20, is the US PGA's most ambitious offering since there were 51 events played in the 1975 season.

It features the majors back in their traditional places on the calendar, with the Masters in April, the PGA Championship in May, the US Open in June and the British Open in July just three weeks before the Tokyo Olympic golf tournament.

It also comes in the wake of a 2019-20 season that was shut down after round one of the Players Championship in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reopened in June and reshuffled to stage the Masters in November, the US Open in two weeks and the PGA Championship last month with the British Open called off.

"We are excited to present the full 2020-21 PGA Tour schedule -– a 'super season' of 50 fully sponsored events capped off by the 15th edition of the FedExCup playoffs," Monahan said.

The tour has continued over the past three months without a major virus outbreak but without spectators at events as well, a major financial issue for tournaments and the tour.

"Building our schedule is always complicated, but never more so as over the past several months as we continue to navigate challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic," Monahan said.

The schedule includes 11 events that were wiped out in 2020, including the Players Championship, and three others that will be played this fall and again in 2021 on usual dates, the Masters, the US Open and the Corales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic on September 24-27.

October's schedule includes two Asian events moved to US venues this year, the CJ Cup shifting from South Korea to Shadow Creek in Las Vegas on October 15-18 and the Zozo Championship moving from Japan, where Tiger Woods won last year, to Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, on October 21-25. A WGC event in Shangahi was canceled.

The first event of 2021 will be the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and the usual schedule follows to March, when shifts were made in Florida stops.

The WGC Mexico Championship and PGA Puerto Rico Open on February 25-28 will be followed by the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 4-7, the Players Championship on March 11-14 and the Honda Classic on March 18-21.

The WGC Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas, and the Dominican PGA event will come two weeks before the Masters with the Texas Open at San Antonio the week before the green jacket showdown at Augusta National.

- Major May-July stretch -

The Valspar Championship near Tampa will move to April 29-May 2 between the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on April 21-25 and the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte on May 6-9 -- two weeks before the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

The Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial tournament comes two weeks after the PGA and two weeks before the US Open, which next year will be staged on June 17-20 at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

After that will come the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit and the John Deere Classic in Sylvis, Illinois, before the British Open returns July 15-18 at Royal St. George's in England.

Two weeks after that will be the Olympics with the WGC St. Jude Invitational in Memphis the next week and the regular-season finale Wyndham Championship a week later.

The PGA playoffs start with the Northern Trust at Liberty National in suburban New York, the BMW Championship at Caves Valley in suburban Baltimore and the 2021 Tour Championship on September 2-5 at East Lake.