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Len Ziehm On Golf

Golf tournament schedules have taken on a completely new look

The tournament schedules of the pro golf tours have turned into a mess, the result of the coronavirus pandemic. Chicago’s premier tournament, the BMW Championship, won’t undergo much of an adjustment, however.

The FedEx Cup Playoff event was moved only one week as part of a schedule revampment announced on Monday by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. It’ll remain at Olympia Fields Country Club, but the dates will be Aug. 27-30 for the tournament rounds. The old dates had been Aug. 20-23.

“We’ve been working closely with the PGA Tour, BMW and our host club to ensure a smooth transition to our new dates while focusing on the healthy and safety of all involved,’’ said Vince Pellegrino, senior vice president of tournaments for the Western Golf Association.

As for the rest of the season, planning wasn’t so easy.

As part of Monahan’s announcement the last regular season PGA Tour event will be the Wyndham Championship, in Greensboro, N.C., from Aug. 10-16. The next week the playoffs begin, with The Northern Trust on Aug. 17-23. The BMW will follow the next week and The Tour Championship will be held from Sept. 1-7 at East Lake, in Atlanta, to conclude the playoffs. Some bigger, more attractive events will be played after that, however.

“It’s a complex situation, and we want to balance the commitments to our various partners with playing opportunities for the world’s best players while providing compelling competition to our fans,’’ said Monahan. “But all that must be done while safely navigating the unprecedented global crisis impacting every single one of us.’’

Tickets already purchased for the BMW Championship, held last year at Medinah Country Club, will be honored at Olympia Fields on the days of the week noted on the tickets. The tournament will again raise funds for its sole beneficiary, the Evans Scholars Foundation. Last year’s event at Medinah drew 130,000 fans and raised $4.4 million for the charity.

“We’re committed to hosting a safe and entertaining event,’’ said Pellegrino, “while also continuing to provide the Evans Scholars Foundation with vital funding for college scholarships for deserving caddies. As we navigate this challenging time we remain committed to fulfilling our mission to help young men and women build better lives for themselves while building stronger communities.’’

The PGA Tour plans to resume its tournament schedule at the Charles Schwab Challenge, at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, TX. May 21-24. Eight tournaments have already been cancelled but Illinois’ other PGA stop — the 50th anniversary staging of the John Deere Classic — remains on tap for July 9-12 at TPC Deere Run in downstate Silvis.

The WGA will conduct five of its six tournaments in the Chicago area this year, the next being the Evans Scholars Invitational, also on May 21-24 at The Glen Club in Glenview. That tournament, part of the PGA’s developmental Korn Ferry Tour, is the planned return of competition on that circuit. Six Korn Ferry tournaments have already been cancelled and two others postponed.

New dates have already been announced for three of golf’s major championships. The PGA Championship, planned for May at Harding Park in San Francisco, is now Aug. 3-9. The U.S. Open had June dates at Winged Foot, in New York, and now will be played Sept. 17-20. The Masters, played annually in April at Augusta National in Georgia, is now Nov. 12-15.

The year’s planned final major, the British Open at Royal St. George’s in England, has already been cancelled and the Olympic Games golf competition in Japan from July 30-Aug. 2, has been postponed with no new date set as yet. The Ryder Cup matches remain at Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits course from Sept. 25-27.

The cancellation of the British Open marked the first time a major championship has been cancelled since 1945 during World War II. Only the PGA Championship was played that year.

More changes are possible, as the PGA Tour listed three now vacant weeks – June 18-21, July 16-19 and July 30-Aug. 2 – as “potential’’ tournament dates.

The U.S. Golf Association, meanwhile, cancelled two of its national championships — the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Senior Women’s Open. The USGA had cancelled its first two championships — the U.S. Senior Amateur Four-Ball and the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball — last month.

On the Ladies PGA Tour the next scheduled tournament is the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship July 19-21. The LPGA has already rescheduled two of its major tournaments. The ANA Inspiration is now on tap for Sept. 10-13 at Mission Hills, in California, and the U.S. Women’s Open has been given Dec. 10-13 dates at Champions Golf Club, in Houston.