2011 schedule includes key change during the PlayoffsPlainfield, hosting a PGA TOUR event for the first time, will be the venue for The Barclays, the first event in the 2011 Playoffs.December 02, 2010
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents
Five new sponsors, five different venues, a new twist to the rotation for the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup and different configurations to three integral parts of the year highlight the 2011 PGA TOUR schedule released Thursday.
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The PGA TOUR Regular Season will again offer players 37 chances for victory, as well as opportunities to earn points toward the all-important Playoffs. Not to mention, players will be battling for spots on Greg Norman's International Team and Fred Couples' U.S. squad when The Presidents Cup, staged for the ninth time, is slated for Nov. 14-20 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia.
Here's a look at some of the changes in store.
PGA TOUR PLAYOFFS FOR THE FEDEXCUP: After being discussed for several years, the 70 players who make the field for the BMW Championship will get a week off before the third Playoffs event. In the four-year history of the FedExCup, there have been three off weeks during the Playoffs but all have come prior to the finale at THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola.
By moving the off-week up one week, players who advance out of the Deutsche Bank Championship will not have to make the quick turnaround following the Labor Day finish at TPC Boston.
In addition, the 125 players who qualify for the Playoffs will start their quest for the FedExCup on a new course -- Plainfield Country Club, next year's venue for The Barclays (more information below).
NEW SPONSORS: Two are automotive companies -- Hyundai and Cadillac -- a sign of the improving economy. The winners-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions kicks off the schedule Jan. 3-9 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua. Cadillac will become an umbrella sponsor of the World Golf Championships and title sponsor of the Cadillac Championship, which will be held March 7-13 at TPC Blue Monster.
Wells Fargo makes its involvement with the PGA TOUR event at Quail Hollow more visible when it assumes the title sponsorship of the Wells Fargo Championship. The tournament, which will be played May 2-8, was formerly sponsored by Wachovia, which is now owned by Wells Fargo, but operated for the last two years as the Quail Hollow Championship with behind-the-scenes support from the banking giant.
In addition to sponsoring the year-long FedExCup, FedEx returns as the title sponsor of the St. Jude Classic after a four-year absence. The tournament, which will be played June 6-12 at TPC Southwind, will be known as the FedEx St. Jude Classic, as it was from 1995-2006. FedEx, which also was the presenting sponsor of the tournament for a year, is headquartered in Memphis.
Nationwide is also signing on as the presenting sponsor of the Memorial Tournament which is played in Dublin, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus where Nationwide is headquartered. And seepuertorico.com will become the presenting sponsor of the Puerto Rico Open, which will be played March 7-13 at Trump International in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
NEW VENUES: Tournaments are being played at five different courses this year but only one -- Plainfield Country Club, which hosts The Barclays -- is completely new to the PGA TOUR. Plainfield, which is located in Edison, N.J., was founded in 1890. The course, which was designed by Donald Ross in 1921, has hosted the 1978 U.S. Amateur and 1987 U.S. Women's Open but not a TOUR event.
The U.S. Open returns to Congressional Country Club for the third time since the national championship began in 1895. Former U.S. Open champions at Congressional are Ken Venturi (1964) and Ernie Els, who beat Colin Montgomerie by one stroke in 1997. Congressional hosted the AT&T National from 2007-2009 but the tournament moved to Aronimink Country Club in 2010 for a two-year stint while preparations for the U.S. Open were on-going.
Royal St. George's hosts the British Open for the 14th time in 2011. Ben Curtis shocked the golf world when he beat Thomas Bjorn and Vijay Singh by a shot in 2003, the last time the Open Championship was played in Sandwich, England. Other former champs include John H. Taylor (1894), Harry Vardon (1899 and 1911), Jack White (1904), Walter Hagen (1922 and 1928), Henry Cotton (1934), R.A. Whitcombe (1938), Bobby Locke (1949), Bill Rogers (1981), Sandy Lyle (1985) and Greg Norman (1993).
The PGA Championship is making its third visit to the Atlanta Athletic Club in August. Larry Nelson beat Fuzzy Zoeller by four strokes there in 1981 while David Toms won a memorable duel with Phil Mickelson 20 years later that was highlighted by a third-round ace.
In addition, the RBC Canadian Open returns to Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club for the fourth time in the tournament's history, and the second time in six years. The last time the RBC Canadian Open was played at the Vancouver course, Mark Calcavecchia beat Ben Crane and Ryan Moore by one stroke.
WEST COAST SWING: The Waste Management Phoenix Open has moved to the middle of the West Coast Swing rather than the end, and the Northern Trust Open and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am have flip-flopped spots in that rotation.
So the 2011 West Coast Swing will consist of the Bob Hope Classic (Jan. 17-23), Farmers Insurance Open (Jan. 24-30), Waste Management Phoenix Open (Jan. 21-Feb. 6), AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Feb. 7-13), Northern Trust Open (Feb. 14-20) and World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship (Feb. 21-27).
The new lineup means that there will be two World Golf Championships in a three-week period since the TOUR then moves to Florida for The Honda Classic and the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship will be held March 7-13.
NEW FORMAT: The Accenture Match Play Championship will now feature an 18-hole championship match rather than a 36-hole finale. That means the quarterfinals will now be played Saturday afternoon with the semifinals moving to Sunday morning and the championship and consolation matches following that afternoon. And in case you were wondering, the tournament has been held a dozen times and only twice has the player leading after 18 holes not gone on to win (Davis Love III in 2004 against Tiger Woods, and Andrew Magee in 1999 against Jeff Maggert). Two other title tilts were tied after 18 holes.
TEXAS SWING: The big news here is that the Valero Texas Open will now be played the week after the Masters (and two weeks after the Shell Houston Open). That date has traditionally belonged to the Heritage Classic, which will now be played April 18-24, two weeks after the season's first major.
The new date for the Valero Texas Open means that the Texas "swing" will now be the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (May 16-22) and the HP Byron Nelson Championship (May 23-29). The two events in the Metroplex have also flip-flopped weeks, with the HP Byron Nelson now ending on Memorial Day weekend.
OPPOSITES ATTRACT: The Viking Classic, which has been a part of the Fall Series for the last four years, has moved into the PGA TOUR Regular Season and will be played opposite the British Open (July 11-17). As a result, the Reno-Tahoe Open returns to its more familiar spot opposite the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational (Aug. 1-7)
FALL SERIES: With the Viking Classic's move, the Fall Series will consist of four tournaments rather than five. The leadoff event will be the Justin Timberlake Shriner's Hospitals for Children Open (Sept. 26-Oct. 2), followed by the Frys.com Open (Oct. 3-9), The McGladrey Classic (Oct. 10-16) and the Children's Miracle Network Classic (Oct. 17-23). In 2010, when there were five Fall Series events, as well as the Ryder Cup, the Children's Miracle Network Classic ended on Nov. 14.
ASIAN SWING: If you want to bank some serious frequent flier points in 2011, there's a golden opportunity after the Fall Series ends with two events in China, one in Malaysia and The Presidents Cup in Australia. The CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Selangor, Malaysia (Oct. 27-30) and the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China (Nov. 3-6) are both co-sanctioned by the PGA TOUR. The money in each is unofficial, although the HSBC Champions counts as a PGA TOUR victory if won by a PGA TOUR member. After an off week -- for sightseeing, perhaps? -- The Presidents Cup will be held at Royal Melbourne (Nov. 14-20), followed by the Omega Mission Hills World Cup at Hainan Island, China (Nov. 24-27).