2019-20 PGA Tour season: Starting off at Greenbrier, here are storylines to watch

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

2019-20 PGA Tour season: Starting off at Greenbrier, here are storylines to watch

PGA Tour

2019-20 PGA Tour season: Starting off at Greenbrier, here are storylines to watch

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You thought the 2018-19 season was packed?

Well, strap in because three more regular-season tournaments have been added for the upcoming 2019-20 campaign, which by the way, starts in less than two weeks.

Add in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

And the Presidents Cup this December. The Ryder Cup next September.

In all, the upcoming PGA Tour wrap-around season that begins Sept. 12 with A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier in West Virginia will feature 49 tournaments and purses in the money-spinning neighborhood of $350 million. There’s also a stupendous bounty of $70 million in bonus cash to be had.

It’s a lengthy campaign that also will feature the Presidents Cup in Australia, which ends Dec. 15, bringing play to a close for 2019 before the PGA Tour returns in January after Christmas break. The FedEx Cup Playoffs will bring an end to the season the last week of August.

And while the Ryder Cup in Wisconsin is not a part of the 2019-20 season – it will be played Sept. 25-27 – the biennial competition between the U.S. and Europe will certainly be on the minds of players scrambling to make the teams.

It’s a schedule that raises one elephant-in-the-room question – how will the players deal with it?

Last season, numerous players struggled to find a rhythm and a proper balance to playing the condensed season of just more than 10 months. Figuring out a suitable itinerary – which involved playing the biggest events, favorite tournaments and sponsor-related events while staying competitively sharp and getting the right amount of rest – was easier said than done.

Players voiced their concern with the lack of time between the major championships, and some were distraught about passing on events they love. It proved to be a 10-month educational experience.

This season will be just as equally challenging.

The four majors – the Masters at Augusta in April, the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco in May, the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in New York in June and the British Open at Royal St. George’s in England in July – will be played in 15 weeks.

Rory McIlroy Players Championship

Rory McIlroy won his first Players Championship on Mar 17, 2019, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. at TPC Sawgrass. (Photo by Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

Add in the Players Championship in March and two WGC events during this span, and that’s eight of the biggest events in golf being played in 19 weeks.

Two weeks after the British Open will be the Olympics, so make that nine in 21 weeks. Two weeks later, the three-week FedEx Cup Playoffs begin.

How the players handle the schedule will be interesting to monitor.

Tiger and the Presidents Cup

One of the fall’s biggest questions concerns Tiger Woods, as in, will he pick himself for the Presidents Cup? The reigning Masters champion and winner of 81 PGA Tour titles and 15 majors is scheduled to start his season in October at the inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan. Two weeks later, he will make his four discretionary picks for the Presidents Cup.

If Woods doesn’t play well in the Zozo, he’ll be hard pressed to add himself to the team. Tony Finau, reigning U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner and Phil Mickelson will try to play themselves into having a voice in the matter of joining the eight already on the team. Don’t forget Jordan Spieth, either.

While the schedule is expected to give players fits if 2018-19 supplies precedent, don’t count Woods among them. He repeatedly has said he will play less in search of playing more down the road. Count on 10-12 tournaments – especially the Masters, where the golf world hopes his back is fit and his game is in form to make a run at defending his latest of five green jackets.

Spieth, Day, Garcia seek to end droughts

Speaking of Spieth, he joins Jason Day and Sergio Garcia as three major champions who didn’t win last season. Spieth hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the 2017 British Open, Day since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, Garcia since the 2017 Masters. Three world-class players will be looking to regain their class in 2019-20.

The class of the majors is Brooks Koepka. Will the world No. 1 continue his Tigeresque ways on the game’s biggest stages? He’s won three of the last seven majors, finished runner-up twice and tied for fourth in another. He’s as physically intimidating as any player, and no one is more confident. He’ll be the favorite at every major as he tries to bag No. 5.

Then there’s Rory McIlroy, who gave Koepka a run for PGA Tour Player of the Year honors by adding his third victory of 2018-19 at the season-ending Tour Championship while hauling away $15 million. The former No. 1 and four-time major winner is the current No. 2. Can he run down Koepka and regain the top perch in the official world rankings? Will there be a rivalry between the two immense talents, one that ignites buzz? And can McIlroy win his first major since 2014, perhaps the Masters to complete the career Grand Slam?

Viktor Hovland with the low amateur medal after the final round of the 2019 U.S. Open golf tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links. (Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)

And there are so many other things to ponder as the new season approaches.

Will the pace of play issue be resolved this season? Will there be any movement on slowing down the golf ball?

Is Matthew Wolff the next big thing? Or is Viktor Hovland? Or Collin Morikawa?

Who joins the elite of the elite? Will there be a first-time major winner? Keep an eye on Xander Schauffele.

And who wins the Cups? The USA will be heavily favored in the land of Oz for the Presidents Cup.

And the USA is in good position to turn its fortunes around in the Ryder Cup despite coming off another embarrassing, lopsided loss in 2018 and having won just twice this century. Thirteen of the current top 20 in the world rankings wear the red, white and blue.

Thus, so many questions with so many answers to be worked out. So many events will give us those answers.

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