The Stricker Stretch that has included qualifying for and playing in the U.S. Open might need a makeover in 2019 and the American Family Insurance Championship will launch a month of PGA Tour golf in the Upper Midwest.
That was the impact on Wisconsin golf of Tuesday's much-anticipated release of the the 2019 PGA Tour schedule, which moves the PGA Championship from August to mid-May and returns The Players Championship to mid-March.
The Am Fam Championship, scheduled for June 21 through 23 in 2019 on the PGA Tour Champions, will fall opposite the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour, the week after the U.S. Open. The PGA Tour will then make three straight appearances in the Upper Midwest, starting with two new events — the Rocket Mortgage Classic (June 27-30) at Detroit GC and 3M Open (July 4-7) at TPC Twin Cities — followed by the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois.
Dates for the 2019 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic have yet to be formally announced. However, if it remains in its usual Fourth of July week slot, it will likely go head-to-head with the Minnesota event just four hours away.
The 3M Open is the first PGA Tour Champions event to transition into a PGA Tour event. It has been played in early August on the senior circuit.
Meanwhile, one staple of Madison golfer Steve Stricker's recent schedules — the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee, at the back end of a week in which he has successfully qualified for the U.S. Open at sectional sites in the area — has taken on greater prominence starting with the 2019 season.
The newly branded FedEx St. Jude Invitational will move to late July and become part of the World Golf Championships series. That means the United States Golf Association will likely change the location of its sectional qualifier for the U.S. Open to be more conducive to golfers headed to the Canadian Open, which will take the dates previously occupied by the Memphis event.
The PGA Tour will return to the Upper Midwest later in 2019, as well, when the BMW Championship returns to the No. 3 Course at Medinah CC near Chicago from Aug. 15 through 18 for the second stop of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The tournament formerly known as the Western Open has not been played at Medinah since 1966, although it has since played host to two U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships, one U.S. Senior Open and the 2012 Ryder Cup.
“We are extremely pleased with the way the schedule has come together, particularly with the number of changes that were involved and the strength of the partnerships required to achieve this new look,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement. “It’s been our stated objective for several years to create better sequencing of our tournaments that golf fans around the world can engage in from start to finish. And by concluding at the end of August, the FedExCup Playoffs no longer have the challenge of sharing the stage with college and professional football. This will enhance the visibility of the FedExCup Playoffs and overall fan engagement with the PGA TOUR and the game as a whole.”