US and Europe swap dates for PGA tournaments

The BMW PGA Championship will move from May to September from 2019 onwards in response to the US PGA Championship switching from August to May.

2016 Champion Jimmy Walker will be the one of the last winners of a US PGA played in August. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
2016 Champion Jimmy Walker will be the one of the last winners of a US PGA played in August. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The European Tour reacted quickly to the biggest shake-up of the golfing calendar in recent memory by shifting its flagship event to avoid a clash with one of the game’s four major championships.

As part of the changes, the Players Championship will revert from May to its old March date, allowing the PGA Tour to complete the lucrative FedEx Cup play-offs before the start of the NFL and college football seasons.

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“Significant changes to the global golfing calendar have given us the opportunity to move the BMW PGA Championship to a more favourable date from 2019 onwards,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said.

“Wentworth Club is an iconic location in the realm of 
British sport and the BMW PGA Championship is always hugely popular.

“We expect similar interest in the autumn, as was shown historically by the World Match Play Championship when it was played at Wentworth Club at that time of the year.”

Moving to May will limit the available courses for the US PGA due to weather conditions, although PGA of America chief executive Pete Bevacqua said it would not be an issue with the venues already announced through 2023.

“We feel the television markets in general are stronger in May and we are 100 per cent confident that we can continue to go to the great golf courses where we have brought this championship,” said Bevacqua. “And it opens up other parts of the country. It’s more comfortable in the south-east. It’s more comfortable in Florida. It’s more comfortable in Texas.”

Two-time US PGA winner Rory McIlroy welcomed the news, adding: “I think it’s great for the golf schedule.

“From a player’s perspective, to now have one really big tournament every month from March and to have the FedEx Cup most likely at the end of August or start of September, it just has a better flow to it, I think.”

The change of date could also allow the Ryder Cup to be played earlier in September.

The US PGA began as a match-play event in 1916 and became a stroke-play tournament in 1958.

Since then, it has been contested in July or August every year apart from 1971, when it was staged in February.

Bethpage Black in New York will stage the 2019 US PGA from 16-19 May, the first conducted in May since Sam Snead’s triumph in 1949.

l Paula Creamer will replace the injured Jessica Korda in the United States team which will defend the Solheim Cup next week. Korda qualified for the 12-strong team to face Europe in Des Moines, Iowa, but withdrew on Monday 
after failing to recover from an arm injury.