For the first time ever, the PGA Tour is beginning its season late in the year, rather than starting in early January.
The 2013-14 season began Oct. 10 with the Frys.com Open in northern California, with six events scheduled before a break in mid-November.
The change will give the formerly “Fall Series” tournaments FedExCup status, with the six tournaments scheduled for October and November offering full FedExCup points, and the winners earning invitations to the Masters.
The WGC event in China in early November will be an official PGA Tour event for the first time, as will a tournament the previous week in Malaysia.
Other than the new start date, the changes to the 2013-14 PGA Tour schedule are minimal, although one involving the FedExCup Playoffs could have an impact.
One event – the annual second tier stop in Mississippi – will not be part of the 2013-14 schedule. The tournament, which has been played opposite the British Open, will be played at the end of 2014 as the last event before the tour takes a break.
That will leave only two weeks on the 2013-14 schedule during which two events will be played. The opposite events remaining are Puerto Rico, played the same week as the WGC event at Doral, and Reno-Tahoe, which is played the same week as the WGC tournament at Firestone. The Mayakoba Classic in Mexico moves from the same week as the WGC Match Play Championship to its own date in mid-November, and will be the last tournament in the 2013 portion of the calendar.
Another change involves two Texas tournaments that again will be played the two weeks prior to the Masters. The tour stop in Houston returns to its status as the last tournament before the Masters, with the event in San Antonio moving to the week before Houston.
Pinehurst, Hoylake and Valhalla will be the sites for the three majors that change venues each year, with Pinehurst also hosting the U.S. Women’s Open the week after the U.S. Open.
To accommodate the Ryder Cup, which will be played Sept. 26-28 in Scotland, the Tour Championship at East Lake will be played one week earlier next year (Sept. 11-14). This will eliminate the off week in the Playoffs, requiring the 30 Tour Championship qualifiers to either play four weeks in a row or skip an event.
Georgia will again be well represented on the PGA Tour for 2013-14, with approximately 30 players with ties to the state holding status for the new season.
Here’s a brief look at Georgia’s returning PGA Tour players for 2013-14, with their 2013 FedExCup rank in parentheses.
Zach Johnson, St. Simons Island (5): Next to Henrik Stenson, was golf’s hottest player the last two months of the season, with a Playoffs win (BMW Championship) and seven top 10s in his last eight starts, including two majors, a WGC event and the Tour Championship. Was having a dismal year before a 3rd place finish at Colonial more than halfway through the season. Late clutch play secured Presidents Cup berth.
Matt Kuchar, Georgia Tech/St. Simons (6): Two high profile wins (WGC Match Play and Memorial) plus runner-up finishes at Colonial and Canada. Tour’s most consistent performer over entire season with no missed cuts, a T8 in Masters and respectable showings in other majors. In 23 starts, was T25 or better 15 times. Enjoyed terrific season despite lousy driving stats.
Roberto Castro, Alpharetta/Georgia Tech (21): Wrapped up outstanding second season on tour with T9 at Tour Championship, his fourth straight top 25 in Playoffs including two top 10s. Highlight of season was runner-up finish at Congressional in AT&T, and kept appearing on leader boards after opening 63 in Players Championship.
Harris English, South Georgia native/UGA/St. Simons (31): Barely bumped out of top 30 after strong sophomore showing that included a win in Memphis, where he held off final day charge by Phil Mickelson. Was 19th in regular season standings after playing well in British Open and WGC event at Firestone, but lost ground in Playoffs. Putting stats surprisingly excellent, with driving accuracy only below-average stat.
Chris Kirk, Woodstock native/UGA/St. Simons (34): Solid season highlighted by strong runner-up showing at Pebble Beach. Only two other top 10s, but 11 top-25s in 24 starts with only four missed cuts. One of tour’s best short games more than compensates for so-so driving stats. Led PGA Tour in eagles (15).
Charles Howell, Augusta native (35): Another “almost” season for talented player considered a career underachiever. Began with 3rd place finish in Hawaii and playoff loss in Bob Hope, which cost him a spot at East Lake and two Masters invites. Was inside top 30 entire season before dropping out in Playoffs, in part caused by DQ in Greensboro due to inadvertent equipment violation. Solid stats across the board other than driving accuracy, with underrated short game.
Bubba Watson, UGA (37): Let a chance for win in Hartford slip away, and did not make another serious run at victory in 2013. Played well tee to green (5th in driving distance and GIR), but putting stats were poor and scrambling rank even worse. With some exceptions did not play well on the weekend.
Russell Henley, Macon native/UGA (44): Rookie season got off to spectacular start with impressive debut win in Hawaii and added a pair of T6 finishes in the Heritage and Memorial. But that was about it for Henley, who was 24th going into the Playoffs, but lost 20 spots in the standings over three weeks. Drove the ball well and was among the top 10 in putting stats, but GIR and scrambling stats were below average.
Patrick Reed, Augusta State (54): Playoff victory over fellow rookie Jordan Spieth in Greensboro capped summer stretch in which he had four top 10s in seven starts, including last three in a row. Ran out of gas in the Playoffs, falling from 22nd in regular season standings. Ball striking stats weren’t very good, but putting and short game made his rookie season a success.
Nicholas Thompson, Georgia Tech (60); Played respectably in return to PGA Tour after one season on Web.com. Only one top 10 in FedExCup event (T6 in Bob Hope), but managed a number of decent finishes and had a chance to win opposite event in Mississippi. Was 13th in driving and 20th in GIR, but struggled on greens. Finished 4th on tour in Saturday scoring, but Sunday average was almost three strokes higher.
Bryce Molder, Georgia Tech (64): Made 17 of 24 cuts with eight top 25s, but highest finish was T12 at Pebble Beach. One of tour’s shortest hitters but best putters, and was 5th on the season in final round scoring average.
Stewart Cink, Georgia Tech/Duluth (76): After worst season of professional career in 2012, rebounded with better showing this year, including finishes of 6th in Houston and 5th in AT&T National. Iron game was excellent (22nd in GIR), but could not make up for poor stats in fairways hit (150), putting (144) and scrambling (164). Has not won since 2009 British Open and has struggled for each of the last three years.
Cameron Tringale, Georgia Tech (79): Third place finish in Tampa was lone top 15, but stats were pretty solid across the board. Has been a consistent performer in each of the last three seasons, but hasn’t been able to improve status in Playoffs.
Scott Brown, Augusta native (88): Second year PGA Tour member won second tier event in Puerto Rico and played respectably the next two weeks in Tampa and Orlando, but was not heard from the rest of the season. Drove the ball well, but other stats were well below average.
Brian Harman, Savannah native/UGA/St. Simons (94): Mostly disappointing season for second-year Tour member, who played well in North Carolina (T10 in Charlotte, T3 in Greensboro), but missed cut in 14 of other 27 starts. Putting stats were respectable, but ball striking wasn’t, with GIR numbers particularly poor.
Erik Compton, UGA: Will be back on the PGA Tour for a third straight season, largely on the strength of a strong stretch of play in his native Florida, highlighted by a T4 in the Honda Classic. Did not have a finish better than 30th after the Florida swing, but still retained his card. Missed a lot of greens, but quality short game made up for that.
Jason Bohn, Acworth (113): Struggled for a third straight year after winning in 2009 in New Orleans, saving his season with a tie for 2nd in the Canadian Open. Played better the second half, with five top 25s in his last 10 starts. Made his share of birdies, with accuracy off the tee helping to offset low rank in driving distance.
Lucas Glover, St. Simons (114): Played well three weeks all season, but got enough out of those three starts to move back into the top 125. Ties for 4th in the Honda Classic and New Orleans were his first top 10s in two years after a forgettable 2012 season. Was among the top 30 in ball striking, but was 178 out of 180 in putting and almost as low in the scrambling stats.
Brendon Todd, UGA/Atlanta (145): Split his time in 2013 between the PGA and Web.com Tours and played well on both, regaining his exempt PGA Tour status by placing 20th in the Web.com money list. Made the cut in eight of 10 PGA Tour starts, finishing between 13th and 30th in seven of them. Was 1st in scrambling and 2nd in final round scoring average, but did not play enough rounds to qualify for official status in the statistical categories.
Justin Bolli, Roswell/UGA (150): Will have limited status after a season in which he missed 17 of 23 cuts, including 10 of his last 11 after a 4th place finish in the Byron Nelson, his best showing in four PGA Tour seasons. Finished T4 earlier in the season in the second tier event in Puerto Rico, but that was it.
Jonathan Byrd, St. Simons (157): Will begin season on medical extension after missing the first three months of 2013. Made only five of 15 cuts, but tied for 10th in Memphis and played an outstanding final round in Reno to tie for 2nd. A few good starts this Fall or early in ’14 will enable him to get his fully exempt status back.
Davis Love, St. Simons (162): Missed three months with a neck injury and had a few positive starts after returning to action, including a tie for 9th in the Greenbrier. Has career exempt status, but has the option of playing the Champions Tour after turning 50 in mid-April. Still has the game to compete on PGA Tour when healthy, but almost certain Champions Tour success will be hard to turn down.
Blake Adams, Georgia Southern/Swainsboro: Made it through four rounds on the West Coast before undergoing season-ending surgery, and will have entire 2013-14 season on a medical extension. Kept his card after each of his first three seasons on Tour while never being fully healthy.