Golf: The pressure is increasing so that the iron is warm with a new important program

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By Andrew Both

(Reuters) – The best male golf professionals will aim this year to win a winning streak at the right time, while a new schedule offsets the major championships in an extremely busy four month period.

The PGA Championship has moved from mid-August to mid-May, forcing players to focus more than ever on reaching a peak between April and July.

Starting from the Masters from April 11th to 14th at Augusta National, the major tournaments will come with the PGA Championship in Bethpage from May 16th to 19th, the US Open at Pebble Beach from June 13th to 16th and the British Open at the Royal Portrush from 18th to 19th. July 21st.

It's four majors in 15 weeks, which could be bad news for players who have a dive at the wrong time, but that will allow those who are in shape to hit while the iron is hot, so to speak .

Tiger Woods will certainly salivate in the main venues of the competition as he tries to end his long series of droughts that has lasted for a decade.

He has won four victories at Augusta National, once at Bethpage (American Open 2002) and once in major at Pebble Beach (American Open 2000), where he achieved the best performance of his career, a record triumph of 15 shots.

He has never triumphed at Royal Portrush, but has no other active player either, as Northern Ireland's classic ties have not been home to the British Open since 1951.

While Woods, who turned 43 on Sunday, usually keeps his schedule as a state secret, you can bet on where he will play once the majors have started.

The successful merger of his spine in 2017 has allowed him to play a full program in 2018, but he claims to have sometimes done too much and that he will not fail to improve in 2019.

This means that his regular appearances on the PGA Tour during the major phase could be limited to the Wells Fargo Championship May 2-5 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Memorial Tournament from May 30 to June 2 in Dublin. , in Ohio.

These events take place two weeks before a big day, which is traditionally Woods' favorite method for grown-ups.

A new tournament in Minnesota, the 3M Open, could also benefit from its place in the program two weeks before the British Open.

Woods has the all-time record for the PGA Tour in 2019, but it will also be a most important year, hoping to get back to Jack Nicklaus' record with 18 major titles.

With 80 wins on the PGA circuit, Woods is two points behind Sam Snead's mark, while his 14 main titles leave him four behind Nicklaus.

Golf does not lack good young players, many have already proven themselves at the highest level but still have a lot to prove.

Rory McIlroy has four major titles, but has not won since 2014. It is asked if his wedge game is sufficiently coherent.

Jordan Spieth, three-time major winner, will try to bounce back after losing his slogan in 2018, while 34-year-old Dustin Johnson will have to prove himself if he wants to add to his solitary major title before Father Time does catch up with him.

The very talented Tony Finau, known so far for having turned his ankle while celebrating a hole-up during the Masters-by-Three competition of last year, seems on the verge of become the next real star. He did not win in 2018, but has approached him several times. Once the door is open, it may be that it is no longer possible to prevent it.

And keep an eye on Cameron Champ, probably the longest hitter in the history of the PGA Tour. The 23-year-old set an all-time distance record of 343 yards in the secondary Web.Com circuit last year, 10 yards higher than anyone else.

Field is anything but a one-pony pony, however, he's already winning this new 2018-19 season at the Sanderson Farms Championship and is quickly following up with two other top 10s.

Joaquin Niemann, a 20-year-old Chilean, former world number one who has made a good start to a professional career, is also to watch.

For women, the women's Ryder Cup will take place in Gleneagles, Scotland, in September, when the United States and Europe will face each other at the Solheim Cup.

But unlike men's golf, where almost all top players are European or American, the Solheim Cup will only include two of the top 10 players in the world, based on current rankings.

Asian golfers continue to dominate women's golf, with South Korea providing an endless stream of talent.

But the world number one belongs to Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn, the reigning champion of the American Women's Open, who will start in 2019 as a woman to beat.

The New Year also marks the most common rule changes in decades, designed to make gaming fairer, faster and simpler. On the recreational side, at least, it's more about rules that catch up with what many casual players have been doing for years.

(Report by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, edited by Leslie Adler)