If you were busy in the throes of football season, you're not alone. It's been quite a while since we've had star-studded golf to watch or cover outside of the PGA Tour's fall wraparound schedule, which is a nice appetizer to the spring season but not an elite stretch of the schedule. The best field of the fall actually came at an unofficial PGA Tour event -- Tiger Woods' Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
So you may have missed a few things that are taking place in 2019 on the PGA Tour. There are rule changes, schedule changes, event changes and purse changes to discuss. So let's jump right in.
Starting Jan. 1, 2019, the Rules of Golf are changing. The primary rules affected at the professional level are as follows:
- You can putt with the flag in ( )
- No penalty for double chips (good news for Tiger Woods)
- Unlimited spike mark repairs
- Three minutes to find a lost ball
- Forty seconds to hit your shot
- Caddies can no longer read putts from behind a player
- You are not penalized for accidentally moving your ball on a putting green
It's that last one that has caused a lot of angst over the last few years and actually led to the implementation of a rule in 2018 which stated "a player's reasonable judgment in making certain types of fact determinations will be accepted even if, after the player has made a stroke, video evidence shows that the player's judgment might have been wrong, and video evidence that shows facts that could not reasonably have been seen with the "naked eye" will be disregarded."
I love the Rules of Golf.
Instead of terminating at the end of September, the 2018-19 PGA Tour season will now conclude on Aug. 25. Tournaments have been moved around, too. The most significant is the PGA Championship's move from August to May, but there are several others, too.
- WGC-Mexico Championship moves from March to February
- Players Championship moves from May to March
- Texas Open moves from after the Masters to the week before the Masters
- Canadian Open moves from week after The Open to week before the U.S. Open
All of these changes are great, especially the Players moving from May to March. Now we get one massive event per month from March through July.
There are some new events in new locales in 2019 and some courses repurposed for different tournaments than they previously hosted. Here's an overview.
- Rocket Mortgage Classic (June in Detroit)
- 3M Open (July in Minneapolis)
- WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational (formerly WGC-Bridgestone Invitational)
- The Dell Technologies Championship -- a playoff event -- has also been lopped off the schedule
- Houston Open and a Military Tribute at the Greenbrier are no longer part of the spring/summer schedule
The Detroit-Minneapolis stretch in the summer may be a little thin, and I don't love having a WGC event in Memphis, but hey, you have to go where FedEx wants you to go.
There have been some adjustments to both the FedEx Cup Playoffs purse size as well as a new regular season bonus pool players can win. The FedEx Cup purse was expanded from $35 million to $70 million (real numbers!) and this is how it will be split.
- Regular season top 10: $10 million split with winner getting $2 million
- Playoff participants: $60 million split with winner getting $15 million
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan recently noted that the FedEx Cup champ next year will likely win around $27 million for the season. Silly money.
On that note, we should talk about the new Tour Championship setup. Formerly you could lose the Tour Championship but win the FedEx Cup. Justin Rose did that very thing last year, and Justin Thomas did it the year before that.
Now? That's no longer the case. Now players at the Tour Championship will start with varying scores to par, and the winner will take both the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup. The No. 1 player in the FedEx Cup coming in will start at 10 under, No. 2 will be at 9 under and all the way down to the bottom five, which will be even par.
This is going to be, uh, interesting but maybe kind of cool to see if folks who start the week down 10 can make up the ground necessary to take home $15 million. There also might be some huge blowouts.