Golf Calendar: No Rest for the Weary
As we head into mid-May, the golf calendar for the games top male professionals is busier than it has been any time in history. May brings the Tournament Players Championship (TPC) at Sawgrass. To players, the TPC is arguably their biggest tournament of the year, outside of the four major championships. 29 of the top 30 players in the world will tee it up on the Pete Dye course that features the infamous 17th hole and island green.
June will usher in the year’s second major – the U.S. Open, held this year at Oakmont Country Club. It also will include Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament and the WGC event at Firestone Country Club as well as the 100th edition of golf’s French Open, a major milestone on the European Tour.
July becomes the first month featuring two men’s professional majors in several years as the Open Championship will be played at Royal Troon and Baltusrol will host the PGA Championship.
The PGA had to be moved up on the calendar because golf will return to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years. This year’s summer games are being held in Brazil. The long travel and fears of the Zika virus have already taken their toll on what should have been a tremendous field.
A few big name players, including four major champions, have already announced they won’t be teeing it up in Rio. The biggest name, so far, to bail on Brazil is former Masters Champion Adam Scott of Australia. Scott has already won twice in 2016. He’s been joined by South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen and Fiji’s Vijay Singh as players who’ve sited the intensity of the professional golf schedule as a reason for skipping the Rio games.
Schwartzel and Oosthuizen’s decisions were quickly criticized by nine-time major champion and fellow South African Gary Player who said he’d “give anything” to have had a chance to compete in the Olympic Games.
This busy second half of the calendar is the likely reason many top players have played limited schedules the past several weeks. Jordan Spieth returns to action in The Players Championship this week and hasn’t played a competitive round of golf since the Masters – a five week break from the rigors of the professional tour. Similarly, Rory McIlroy made his return to competition this past week at the Wells Fargo Championship.
When you consider the fact that these are two of the top three players in the world, with multiple championships compared to current world number one Jason Day who has a single major, their approach seems designed to insure that they will have the energy to fight through two major championships, the Olympics, the FedEx playoffs and ultimately three long days at the Ryder Cup which is being contested this year at Hazeltine National Golf Club (Chaska, MN) in the last week of September.
The best news for golf fans is we have an incredible stretch of golf television coming over the next five months. The challenge for the world’s best players is maintaining concentration and peak form over the next twenty plus weeks.