The PGA Championship was played over the weekend at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C. It was a course familiar to most of the field, since it had been home to the Wells Fargo Championship since 2003.
The Wells Fargo was moved 200 miles east to Wilmington, N.C., for this year’s event. That regular tour event will be back at Quail Hollow in early May 2018.
“It wasn’t moved so much because they would be trying to sell two events in the same city,” Hollis Cavner said. “There’s so much that goes into a major tournament these days, you need months to get the course and infrastructure ready.
“And with Quail Hollow out of the picture, they decided to give a tournament to Wilmington, where the PGA used to have an event [the Azalea Open].”
Cavner is the CEO of Pro Links Sports. He has been the force behind the 3M Championship during its 25-year run as the annual senior tour event in the Twin Cities.
Paul Goydos shot a tournament-record 60 in the second round and won the 3M in a playoff on Aug. 6. A story line from that weekend was the possibility the Twin Cities is in line for an annual event on the regular PGA Tour.
The reports in the Twin Cities dailies — including a column from me — might have needed more caution. Players in the Champions Tour field were openly talking about it, and Cavner was willing to answer reporters’ questions on the topic, but don’t start holding your breath for an announcement.
“Am I optimistic? Yes,” Cavner said. “But there is quite a ways to go. The senior staff of the PGA Tour might know where everything will shake out, but not the rest of us.
“What I can tell you is this: The PGA Tour has the right person to figure it out in Jay Monahan. This guy is the real deal.”
Monahan replaced Tim Finchem as the PGA Tour commissioner in January. The first signs of activism were revealed with the announcement of these game changers for 2019:
The Players goes back to March from May, and the PGA Championship moves from August to the middle of May. And with the season now likely to end with the Tour Championship on Labor Day weekend in September 2019, there are tournaments and potential new markets (including the Twin Cities) looking for places to land on a crowded summer schedule.
Cavner was in Charlotte this weekend for the PGA Championship. What lies ahead in 2019 had to be Topic A.
“It’s almost certain we will be back with the Champions Tour event next August, and then we’ll see a schedule with a new look in 2019,” Cavner said.
A possible date mentioned for the 3M Championship becoming a tour event was the July 4th weekend in 2019. If that were to happen, it would be two weeks after the KPMG Women’s PGA is held at Hazeltine.
Another competitor for a tournament date could be Windsong Farm in Maple Plain, which is one of several courses in the middle of the country trying to land the BMW Championship (the semifinal in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs) for 2020 or beyond.
The Windsong effort has no impact on the attempt to upgrade the 3M to a PGA Tour event. If the sponsor and Cavner are successful, in all likelihood it will be for the summer of 2019 and it will develop a strong following.
If it doesn’t, Windsong might have a shot, since there’s no predicting when a PGA Championship will return to Hazeltine with the new May dates.
You’re not going to get 15 of the top 20 players in FedEx points for a midsummer weekly PGA Tour event at an improved TPC Twin Cities. You are going to get eight or 10, and if it’s Brooks Koepka and not Jordan Spieth leading the charge, that’s still good.
As a golf fan, I’d take my chances with an annual PGA Tour event in the summer, and let the majors come when they may.
“If we were to get a PGA Tour event, and then there’s a year when Hazeltine has a major, we’re going to be down some with our corporate business,” Cavner said. “We’ll live with that. We have friends at Hazeltine. Majors drive golf interest. Long-term, that’s good for all of us.”
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. firstname.lastname@example.org