Everything You Need To Know About The Upcoming PGA Tour Season*

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Everything You Need To Know About The Upcoming PGA Tour Season*

October 06, 2014

Photo By: Stan Badz/PGA TOUR/Getty Images

Photo By: Stephen Szurlej

Photo By: J.D. Cuban

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Photo By: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Photo By: Cal Sport Media via AP Images

Photo By: Stan Badz/PGA TOUR/Getty Images

Photo By: Stan Badz/PGA TOUR/Getty Images

The schedule has been tweaked again

It's become tough to keep track of the constant change to the PGA Tour schedule in recent years, and the 2014-15 schedule isn't about to buck that trend. The new lineup sees the Farmer's Insurance Open flip with the Phoenix Open to ensure it will remain the same week as the Super Bowl (which is also in Arizona). Tiger Woods' tournament is also moving to after the British Open while the WGC Match Play will move to San Francisco and be played the week preceding the Players Championship. There were a few more changes, but don't worry, there's always one thing you can rely on: At some point, golf will be played somewhere. -- Luke Kerr-Dineen

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The major venues feature some old standbys, and one new wildcard

Given the annual stop at Augusta National for the Masters and the British Open's return for the 29th time to the Old Course at St. Andrews, the other two venues hosting men's majors in 2015 almost don't matter. The lineup already has us salivating. Fans' increased familiarity with Whistling Straits, hosting the PGA Championship for the third time in 11 years, boosts the Wisconsin course's cachet as well. This year's wildcard is Chambers Bay outside Tacoma, Wash. The Robert Trent Jones Jr. design makes its major debut at the U.S. Open (with Fox Sports along for the ride when it televises its first Open). Built on an old gravel quarry along the Puget Sound, Chambers Bay is scenic but untested, exposing it potentially to mixed reviews from tour pros regarding its fescue greens and links-style features. -- Ryan Herrington

Photo By: Stephen Szurlej

This is a Presidents Cup players could skip

What makes the U.S.'s pitiful Ryder Cup record even more frustrating is how dominant it has been in that other biennial competition, the Presidents Cup. In the 20-year history of the event pitting the U.S. vs. The Rest of the World,  the Americans have lost just once. Is it even worth their time? Maybe when it's a short flight away, but this year's Presidents Cup is in Incheon, South Korea, two weeks after the completion of the endless FedEx Cup Playoffs. We're not endorsing the idea of top players taking a pass on the event. We just wouldn't be completely surprised if someone is struck my a mysterious back ailment right around the same time. -- Sam Weinman

Photo By: J.D. Cuban

The fall schedule actually matters

The fall events in the PGA Tour's wrap-around season don't draw the best fields, but perhaps, that's the best reason for non-marquee golfers to play. Take Jimmy Walker, who won last year's Frys.com Open for his first PGA Tour title in 188 starts. The victory propelled him to a career campaign that included two more wins and a spot in the Ryder Cup team after leading the FedEx Cup points list for nearly the entire season. One of his U.S. teammates, Webb Simpson, who won the following week in Las Vegas, also has the fall to thank for his trip to Gleneagles. The autumn events don't have the prestige of other regular PGA Tour stops, but now they count just as much. -- Alex Myers

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But as a result, the West Coast is likely to suffer

The tour schedule is a zero sum game, which is another way of saying if players are adding events on one part of the calendar, they're very likely to subtract from others. With the fall schedule becoming increasingly busy, and with the Florida Swing stronger than ever, it's the West Coast events that many players will deem skippable. With the exception of Torrey Pines, where Tiger and Phil are almost always locks to play when healthy, we're expecting attendance to be sporadic from the upper crust -- especially now that the Match Play has moved to spring. Odds are Woods will only show up once, and we likely won't see Rory McIlroy play in the U.S. until the tour gets to Florida. -- S.W.

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The countdown to Olympic golf begins

Golf's return to the Olympics doesn't actually take place until 2016, when the chronically delayed Gil Hanse-designed course hosts men's and women's individual tournaments. But players hoping to gain access into the 60-player fields will start jockeying for position in earnest this summer. Olympic qualifying is based solely off the Official World Golf Ranking, which relies on a two-year cycle. Anyone ranked inside the top 15 on July 11, 2016 gains entry into the Games (up to four players from a country). Remaining spots go to the highest-ranked players from countries without two golfers already qualified. Confused? While players performance in 2015 will influence their 2016 ranking, fans have 19 months to get everything straight. -- R.H.

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Rory and Phil will be going for the career Grand Slam

As if the first two majors of the year weren't interesting enough already, the 2015 Masters and U.S. Open already have two juicy storylines built into them. First Rory McIlroy will try for his career Grand Slam at Augusta National, the venue perhaps best suited to his game. Then a few months later it'll be Phil Mickelson's chance to claim his career Grand Slam by trying, once again, to capture his long-awaited U.S. Open. Rory may have time on his side, but this may well be Phil's final chance. It's a fascinating contrast between two men chasing the same goal. -- L.K.D

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History is working against Billy Horschel

We're all in favor of seeing Billy Horschel build on his breakthrough wins in the BMW and Tour Championship, if only because golf doesn't have enough players willing to wear octopus pants. But if you're thinking a FedEx Cup win one season translates to success the next, it doesn't. Consider that none of the FedEx Cup champions have gone on to win a major after claiming the $10 million bonus. Furthermore, the last four FedEx Cup champs have won just four tournaments between them since. -- S.W.

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This year's rookie class is intriguing

After a relatively weak rookie class led by Chesson Hadley, we expect to see more success from first-time PGA Tour players in 2014-15. Let's start with Justin Thomas, a 21-year-old former star at University of Alabama, who finished fifth on the Web.com Tour's list of 50 graduates after winning one of the tour's four playoff events. Thomas drew raves from fellow pros, including Phil Mickelson, while competing at this year's U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Then there's Carlos Ortiz (left), 23, who earned his first promotion to the big leagues by winning three times on the developmental tour. Ortiz is just the fifth Mexican player to earn his tour card. And finally, Sam Saunders brings a bit of golf royalty to the PGA Tour. Don't recognize the name? Well, we're pretty sure you know his grandfather, Arnold Palmer. -- A.M.

Photo By: Stan Badz/PGA TOUR/Getty Images

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