Jay Monahan has been on the job as PGA Tour commissioner for just a few days, but he is already acknowledging a desire to alter the schedule in such a way that would change the dates for one of the major championships and for the tour's flagship tournament.
Monahan, 46, who officially took over for Tim Finchem on Sunday, told the Wall Street Journal in his first interview since he was approved to take over in November that he'd ideally like to see the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs wrap up by Labor Day. To accomplish that, he's considering moving the PGA Championship to May and scheduling the Players Championship earlier in the year as well, so the season-ending events would not compete with the NFL and college football for television viewers.
"That's certainly something that we would like to see happen,'' Monahan told the newspaper. "Having big events every month, culminating in the FedEx Cup playoffs in August prior to the NFL season, that would be a very powerful schedule.''
Except for one year (1971, when Jack Nicklaus won the tournament in Florida), the PGA Championship for decades has been the last of the four major championships, played in July or August.
To move it to May would require the cooperation of the PGA of America, which runs the event. The 2016 tournament, won at Baltusrol by Jimmy Walker, had to be squeezed into the schedule because of the Olympics, which prompted PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua to acknowledge in November that settling on a different date was under consideration.
"We are huge proponents of the Olympics,'' Bevacqua told Golf Channel at the PGA's annual meetings. "We are all about the Olympics, but we also have to protect the PGA Championship, and we can't just bounce the PGA Championship around every four years. To truly make it work, to make it succeed and to make sure golf is in the Olympics for the next century, the whole schedule needs to be adjusted.''
Moving to May would cause some agronomical concerns for the PGA, which would likely be limited in the places it could stage the championship. It would also mean the PGA Tour would want to move its Players Championship out of the May time frame that it established 10 years ago, when it moved from March.
The PGA Tour is able to opt out of its network television contracts with NBC and CBS in 2018, which would help facilitate such a move.
Also to be determined is the future of the FedEx Cup playoffs and its sponsorship. The playoff format, which was introduced in 2007 and sees a season-long champion crowned with a $10 million bonus, is in its last year of FedEx sponsorship. There has been talk of shrinking the playoffs from four to three events.