The phrase ‘Monday finish’ is dreaded on the PGA Tour. Professional golf has a predictable rhythm each week, one that is easily disrupted by a delayed tournament.
The 2012 season will begin with an intentional Monday finish, though. The season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions will end Monday, Jan. 9, Andy Pazder, the PGA Tour’s executive vice president and chief of operations, confirmed to Golfweek.
“The event is finishing on Monday so the final round will not conflict with the NFL Playoffs,” Pazder wrote in an email. “In addition, it moves the event one additional day away from the Christmas/New Year’s Day holiday, which is a plus for the players, Hyundai and Hyundai’s guests.”
The Hyundai Tournament of Champions is held at the Kapalua Resort in Maui. The 72-hole event, which will begin Friday, Jan. 6, is open only to players who won during the previous PGA Tour season.
The NFL’s four wild-card playoff games are scheduled for Jan. 7-8. NBC will promote the Hyundai’s Monday finish during the NFL broadcasts, Pazder said. The Hyundai is broadcast on Golf Channel, which has the same parent company, Comcast, as NBC.
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This isn’t the first time the PGA Tour has changed its schedule to avoid competing with the NFL for viewers. One reason for the FedEx Cup’s creation was to lessen the impact of the overlap between the PGA Tour and NFL seasons.
A scheduled Monday finish on Tour is rare, but not unprecedented. The Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston finishes on Labor Day.
The Hyundai’s date switch may not set off a dramatic shift in golf’s scheduling, but it could show other tours that they need not be beholden to golf’s traditional Thursday-Sunday schedule. Some have recommended recently that the LPGA or Nationwide Tour consider ending events on Friday or Saturday. Altering schedules would allow those tours to step out from the PGA Tour’s Sunday shadow.
The change in the Hyundai’s schedule also is the latest in a series of progressive moves by the PGA Tour. The cell-phone ban at tournaments was lifted this year. The Tour is giving serious consideration to wholesale changes to its qualifying structure, and still is looking at “designated tournaments” as a way to get stars to play weaker events (the policy, voluntary this year, still could become mandatory).
The Hyundai’s Monday finish won’t allow it to completely avoid a big game on the gridiron. The Bowl Championship Series’ National Championship Game will be held Jan. 9 in New Orleans. The Hyundai will be completed before the BCS game, Pazder said.