Pushing the WGC-Match Play Championship to May has forced some marquee names into some uncomfortable decisions schedule-wise. With just nine weeks between the Masters and the U.S. Open, the calendar is loaded with attractive options — starting with Match Play, Players Championship and Wells Fargo Championship.
Rory McIlroy is really squeezed, especially when you factor in the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA, where he’s the defending champ, and a tournament that directly benefits his charitable foundation, the Irish Open.
Pencil McIlroy in for Match Play and Players Championship, but not Wells Fargo, even though there is an emotional attachment to the Quail Hollow Club and Charlotte, N.C. He won his first PGA Tour title there in 2010 – he now has nine – and has consistently played well in that arena.
Still, McIlory is likely to take that week off to prepare for his back-to-back with the BMW PGA and Irish Open, which will usher him into another problem: Does he play the following week at the Memorial? The guess is no, that McIlroy will opt to have two full weeks off going into the U.S. Open, rather than going in having played five of seven.
Adam Scott’s schedule has to factor in the Crowne Plaza Invitational Colonial, where he is the defending champion. Consequently, he’ll play the Match Play and Players, skip the Wells Fargo, then play at Colonial. His three-week stretch into the U.S. Open may include the Memorial, though nothing has been made official.
Jordan Spieth, having played six of the last seven weeks, is the one people will be watching as we near the U.S. Open. He’s off this week, but will play Match Play and Players, then likely skip the Wells Fargo. That’s because both the Colonial and the Byron Nelson — hometown tournaments — are on his schedule and he’s not about to play five straight.
Saying no to Jack Nicklaus and the Memorial after the Texas swing would be difficult, so if Spieth tees it up there, it would mean 11 of 14 weeks. Even with taking off the week of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Spieth’s performance at the U.S. Open will be scrutinized. If he plays well, people will credit the fact he’s played a lot. If he plays poorly, it will be owed to being burned out.
Jim Furyk? We should be seeing a lot of him, as he figures to play the Match Play, Players and Wells Fargo, then make it four weeks in a row at the Colonial, an event he has played annually since 1995. Given that the Memorial is another annual lock, Furyk will play six of the nine weeks between major championships.
Don’t expect other marquee names to follow suit. Figure on most of them keeping it to five of the nine weeks, at the most. The tournaments that will likely take the biggest hit being the Wells Fargo, especially with Euros headed to home soil for the BMW PGA, and the Memorial, given the apprehension of doing the BWM PGA, Irish Open, Memorial stretch.