GOLF: PGA Tour releases 2011 schedule
AP Golf Writer
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) – The PGA Tour lost one tournament and picked up seven new title sponsors for a 2011 schedule that is not much different than last year and still offers about the same amount of prize money.
The schedule released Wednesday includes 45 tournaments that count toward official money, down one from last year after the Turning Stone Resort Championship decided not to renew.
Despite losing that tournament, however, total prize money hardly missed a beat. Assuming the majors keep their purses at least the same, the total is $288 million – an increase of $3.8 million that offsets the $4 million Turning Stone purse. The 17 tournaments had slight purse increases built into their contracts.
FedEx will become title sponsor for one year at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn., held a week before the U.S. Open. FedEx had been the title sponsor until it shifted its focus to the FedEx Cup in 2007.
Six new title sponsors had already been announced, a strong showing in this economy. Those were Hyundai (Kapalua), Farmers Insurance (San Diego), Wells Fargo (Charlotte, N.C.), Cadillac (Doral, Fla.), McGladrey (St. Simons Island, Ga.) and CIMB (Malaysia).
That leaves only two tournaments on the schedule that do not have sponsors – The Heritage at Hilton Head and the Bob Hope Classic. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has said both events could make it at least another year without one.
“The 2011 schedule reflects the overall strength and stability of the PGA Tour,” he said.
Only four tournaments remain in the Fall Series – held after the FedEx Cup is over – with the Viking Classic in Mississippi moving to the same week as the British Open.
The Disney event will be held before leaving the country for a two-week swing through Asia. This year, Disney was the week after the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, which is a World Golf Championship event that does not count toward official money. Three players – Heath Slocum, Richard Johnson of Sweden and Rickie Fowler – flew from China to Florida to play this year.
The tour will have another week off in September, only this time it will be after the second playoff event at the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston. That tournament traditionally ends on Labor Day, and there were concerns it made for a quick turnaround the following week.
Next year, players will have a week off after Boston before going to the BMW Championship at Cog Hill outside Chicago, followed by the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
The West Coast was reconfigured this year because of the Olympics and returns to its usual lineup. The Phoenix Open will be played the first week in February, followed by Pebble Beach and Riviera, leading to the Match Play Championship.
The Match Play Championship has changed its format from a 36-hole championship match. Instead, four quarterfinal matches will be played Saturday, with two semifinal matches Sunday morning and an 18-hole championship match Sunday afternoon.
“We believe this will enhance the viewing experience for the fans on site as well as our NBC television audience,” Finchem said.