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PGA Tour

Farmers Insurance Open going to Wednesday-Saturday schedule to soften NFL impact

September 28, 2021

Patrick Reed won the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open by five shots.

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

When the PGA Tour first broached the subject to Farmers Insurance Open tournament director Marty Gorsich, he admits it sounded a bit like drawing the short straw. In 2022, the Farmers is slated at Torrey Pines in San Diego the same week as the NFL conference championship games. For decades, the former Bob Hope Classic (now The American Express) has dutifully occupied the slot that makes drawing spectators and TV viewers challenging.

With the NFL creating a 17-game regular-season schedule beginning this season, that pushed the juxtaposition of tour events back a week, thus putting the Farmers up against the NFL. That was a concern for the tour, CBS and Gorsich, considering Torrey Pines is the first event of the new year broadcast by one of the major networks.

With some creative thinking, however, the more the entities dived into the idea, the better they felt, and Gorsich has gone from concerned to brightly optimistic. “I’m bullish on it,” he says of a move that will produce several precedents.

As announced by the tour on Tuesday, the ’22 Farmers Open will begin on a Wednesday, Jan. 26, and conclude that Saturday. And in another positive development, the Advocates Pro Golf Association (APGA), a tour affording pro competition opportunities for minorities, will hold a two-day, 36-hole tournament at Torrey Pines that week. The Saturday round will be played on the North Course, while Sunday’s conclusion will be on the South Course and televised by Golf Channel. It will be the biggest exposure ever for the APGA.

“I would say it’s been a great collaboration,” Gorisch said. “There have been multiple calls from all levels of the tour and CBS. We’ve never had this many groups coming together, rowing in the same direction.”

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According to Gorsich, the tour likes the idea because it’s unique and solves the issue of going head-to-head against the NFL. CBS favors it because it can promote the Farmers extensively in the weeks before, and the event works as a natural lead-in to Sunday’s football. CBS also plans to show the tournament on Friday and Saturday up to 8 p.m. ET. Gorsich hopes the players like it because they get a rare working Sunday off, maybe to watch the games or travel.

And though there won’t be pro-ams on Monday and Tuesday at Torrey—a significant revenue producer for the event—Gorisch will have dozens of tour players at his disposal for other pre-tournament appearances. “It could be for wine tasting,” he said, “or maybe a cornhole tournament.”

Gorsich says the PGA Tour is working closely with Farmers and the event to enhance the financial outcome as much as possible. He said the Sunday losses might not be as great as they seem, because Friday and Saturday do better with the crowd size and concession sales.

There is another possible reward: If play was pushed to an extra day, as it has been a couple of times in recent years because of weather and playoffs, that bonus day would be Sunday.

If all goes well, Gorsich said the Century Club of San Diego and the tour would probably look at extending the Wednesday through Saturday schedule beyond ’22.

Meantime, Torrey Pines’ North Course, which is part of the Farmers’ play for the first two days, continues to heal from the temporary roads and structures built for the 2021 U.S. Open. Gorsich said there was initial concern about the course bouncing back in six months to host a tour event. The North opened back up to the public in early September, and Gorsich said, “Rich McIntosh [Torrey Pines’ superintendent] feels like things are back in a good spot. He’s still got plenty of time.”