The PGA Tour Home Stretch

Did you get caught flatfooted this year again like I did? Last year I was minding my own business when I finally realized that the regular season had but three tournaments left to go. I immediately put out a post to alert everyone else too.

So, of course, the same thing happened this year! I knew that the WGC at Firestone was coming up this week and I just wanted to see how far away the PGA Championship was. Surprise! It’s next week already. Where does the time go?

So as a service to readers — and for my own sanity — here’s the home stretch of the Tour’s schedule beginning with the last three regular season tournaments lineup and why we should care:

Aug 2 – 5: World Golf Championship- Bridgestone Invitational — Firestone Country Club, Akron, Ohio. Invitation only to the very best players in the world in the world rankings and performers on other International tours.

Aug 9 – 12: PGA Championship – Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean Course), Kiawah Island, South Carolina. The last of the year’s four majors and Keegan Bradley’s coming out party last year.

Aug 16 – 19: Wyndham Championship – Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, North Carolina. Greensboro has graduated from a sleepy, but storied, tournament that has vaulted to one of the best cliffhangers in sports. It’s the last tournament in the regular season and as such, it determines the top 125 players who get to play in the playoffs.

THE PLAYOFFS: You play your heart out and hope that you remain inside the shrinking threshold for each week’s tournament: Top 125, 100, 70 and 30 respectively.

Aug 23 – 26: The Barclays – Bethpage State Park, Farmingdale, New York. The Barclays rotates among three courses in the greater New York/New Jersey area and this year we are treated to the Tour’s return to Bethpage (Black), the first time since Lucas Glover’s U.S. Open win in 2009. Before that it was the 2002 Open won by Tiger. The top 125 guys get in.

Aug 31 – Sep 03: Deutsche Bank Championship – TPC Boston, Norton, Massachusetts. The second in the series on a fun, risk/reward course that produces a lot of birdies. Go low or go home; 56 of the 100 players in the tournament were under par at the end. Because of the Labor Day holiday, there’s a Monday finish.

Sep 06 – Sep 09: BMW Championship – Crooked Stick GC, Carmel, Indiana. Formerly played at Cog Hill in Chicago, the BMW returns to Crooked Stick with 70 players getting a shot at finishing in the year’s top 3o.

Sep 13 – Sep 16: Week off

Sep 20 – Sep 23: Tour Championship by Coca-Cola – East Lake GC, Atlanta, Georgia. East Lake, the course that saved a blighted Atlanta neighborhood, hosts the Tour Championship each year and Coca-Cola, the behemoth hometown company, makes it all possible. The Tour Championship and the FedExCup are the prizes. Bill Haas hauled them both away last year with his dramatic shot from the greenside lake on 17.

At this point, all the top players are basically done on the U.S. Tour except for one big thing:

Sep 28 – Sep 30: The Ryder Cup – Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Illinois. Captain Jose Maria Olazabal brings his European team in while Captain Davis Love III will do his best to make sure they head home empty-handed.

Oct 4 – Nov 11: The Fall Series: The Ryder Cup decided, the Tour heads to the finish line with the last four regular tournaments of the season (which I’ll detail when we get there). This is the stretch where the players attempt to sew up their cards for 2013 by finishing in the top 125 on the Money List. Most of the drama takes place in the 115 to 135 block; who hangs on and who slips in?

And finally…

Nov 28 – Dec 3: PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament – The finals of the three-stage, “The Fall Classic,” the last chance to earn a Tour card for 2013 and the last chance to earn a Tour card in this way. Next year, the traditional Q-School will be abandoned in favor of a three-tournament series that will award 25 PGA Tour cards to the top 25 on the Tour and 25 cards from the rest of the field.

So, something for everyone and drama right down to the very last tournament.

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