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New PGA Tour schedule offers golfers more reasons to play early events

New PGA Tour schedule offers golfers more reasons to play early events

The PGA Tour calendar says it is the third week of January, and for years that has meant the Tour comes to the Coachella Valley for the American Express.

But as Tour players gather in the desert this week, they do so under a schedule that, while not changing the week of the American Express, does elevate the desert event in importance.

The Tour has ended its 10-year experiment with a wraparound season, which had the FedEx Cup points race starting in tournaments in September and ending with the Tour Championship in August. With the chase for FedEx Cup points now aligned with the start of the calendar year, the American Express is no longer the 12th event of the season. Instead, the La Quinta tournament is the third event in the chase, preceded only by the Sentry and the Sony Open in Hawaii.

The result is not only a shorter 36-event schedule but a potential boost for events early in the calendar such as the American Express.

“The season is condensed, so guys will play more in a condensed timeframe,” said Pat McCabe, American Express executive director. “You heard a lot of the interviews over in Maui (at The Sentry), even for the guys who qualified for the Sentry, that it really felt great for them to get an ‘off season’ and get some time to recharge the batteries and spend time with friends and family. And maybe not even touch a club for weeks at a stretch. So guys are kind of anxious and eager to get going.”

It’s not just that the players are eager to return to tournament golf. In some cases golfers will have zero FedEx Cup points heading into the American Express if they didn’t qualify for The Sentry, one of eight signature events on Tour in 2024, or if they skipped the Sony Open in Hawaii. That’s not only important for qualifying for the FedEx Cup Playoffs in August, but also for potentially qualifying for the next $20 million signature event, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Feb. 1-4.

While the top 50 golfers from the 2022-23 FedEx Cup standings are in all eight of the signature events, golfers not qualified can still earn a berth in the big-money events through regular Tour events like the AmEx. What the Tour is calling the Aon Next 10 and the Aon Swing 5 allows 15 players to make the field of the signature events.

The top 10 players in FedEx Cup points not otherwise eligible after the tournament before a signature event makes that signature event’s field. Also, the five top point earners in a series of events before the signature…


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