The World Golf Championships event at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, could be ending after 2018, ending a 65-year run with the PGA Tour in the Cleveland suburb.
Crain’s Cleveland Business discusses reporting from Golf Channel contributor John Feinstein on his SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio show, “A Good Walk Spoiled,” about the future shake up on the PGA Tour schedule for 2018-19.
According to Feinstein, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title sponsor Bridgestone wants an official PGA Tour event in Japan. They would be willing to abandon the Akron sponsorship, which ends in 2018, in exchange for an event on the burgeoning Asian Swing, which the PGA Tour could oblige.
Instead of the August World Golf Championships being played in Akron, then, the current FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis would take the slot and upgrade to the WGC banner. Feinstein reported this was a demand from FedEx as part of its 2017 renewal of the FedEx Cup sponsorship. (For what it’s worth, Memphis in August sounds very hot.)
With the PGA Championship moving from August to May and The Players back to March in 2019, the PGA Tour schedule is subject to some upheaval.
The WGC event in August will not have quite the same pop as it did, leading into the final major of the year. However, it will remain a critical PGA Tour event heading into the FedEx Cup playoffs.
The PGA Tour’s second run through Texas in May, which has been the sister-city two-step of the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Colonial Invitational, could also be in trouble. While the Nelson has healthy sponsor footing, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram has reported boutique food shop Dean & DeLuca is backing out as title sponsor of the event. The PGA Tour, per the paper’s reporting, has given the club until Dec. 1 to cobble together the required sponsor millions for the tournament to move forward or risk falling off the schedule.