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PGA Tour Announces 2012 Tournament Schedule

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIOctober 20, 2011

Heritage gets new sponsor RBC for 2012
Heritage gets new sponsor RBC for 2012Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The PGA released its tournament schedule consisting of 45 official events totaling over $310 million in prize money for 2012. There are some interesting items to note. 

The PGA schedule makers continue to tweak its television scheduling to avoid conflicts with football, especially the NFL playoffs. The first event of the year will again be the Hyundai Tournament of Champions held in Kapalua January 2-9. The NFL Playoffs will be going strong on that weekend so if you look real close January ninth is a Monday. That’s right the final round will be held on Monday rather than the traditional Sunday finish. This does not create a travel problem for most of the participants as the next scheduled event, The Sony Open, is also played in Hawaii.

Several big names including Rory McIlroy, have already said “Thanks, But no Thanks” to playing in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions even though it is an exclusive, no-cut field in a beautiful location. With the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the WGC events, and the Fall Series maybe it is time to discontinue the Tournament of Champions as the lead event for the PGA season, go back to the drawing board for a better idea.

The Heritage, played at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, has a new sponsor and is now the RBC Heritage. It returns to its normal slot the week following the Masters and is a popular event among the touring pros. Hilton Head provides a great family atmosphere and provides stress relief after a tension filled week at the Masters.

The Greenbrier Classic moves to fourth of July Weekend. With the AT&T, which is played in the last week of June, returning to Congressional in 2012, it will be an easy drive over to White Springs, West Virginia for the Greenbrier. Save those frequent flier miles for  another trip boys. It also avoids a conflict with the U. S. Senior Open for Tom Watson and Tom Lehman who both chose to skip the 2011 USGA Senior Open at Inverness to fulfill sponsorship commitments to the Greenbrier played the same week.

Tom Watson at 2011 Greenbrier Classic
Tom Watson at 2011 Greenbrier ClassicHunter Martin/Getty Images

The Barclay’s, the first event in the FedEx Cup Playoff series will be held at Bethpage Black in 2012. Bethpage Black has provided a stern test for the pros in the two U. S. Opens that have been held there. It helps to assure a strong field, big event for the New York area, and should be a perfect venue to kick off the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

The FedEx Cup Playoffs will change their off week to the week prior to the Tour Championship.  The Ryder Cup will be held at Medinah Country Club in Chicago the following week. Several of the top players will be in both events and only have to play two weeks in a row, poor babies.

The final interesting schedule tweak happens at the end of the Fall Series. Just when the PGA seemed to be getting the Fall Series right it is forced to take a two week hiatus in 2012. The bubble boys will have a couple of weeks to practice between the McGladery Classic held October 15-21 and the Children’s Miracle Hospital Network (CMHN) at Disney, November 5-11, 2012. 

Two big money events held in China, the WGC-HSBC Champions and the Barclay’s Singapore Open would conflict with CMHN. This demonstrates what a global game golf has become and how large purse events in other parts of the world affect the once dominant U. S. PGA Tour. Stretching the CMHN out two weeks will provide an ear splitting thud and give us an anticlimactic end to the 2012 PGA Season. 

The changes to the PGA Tour schedule are somewhat minor in 2012, but finding new sponsors for the Bob Hope, now the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation and the RBC Heritage is a giant boost for these two events that have been staples on the PGA Tour. 

The schedule, new television contracts, and an ever increasing dearth of young talent ready to win on the PGA Tour make it appear that the Tour is healthy as ever and should provide plenty of excitement for golf fans around the globe in 2012.

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