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PGA Championship was squeezed into golf’s schedule this year

Bubba Watson watches his tee shot on the 17th hole during a practice round for the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club on Wednesday.
Bubba Watson watches his tee shot on the 17th hole during a practice round for the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club on Wednesday. AP

If it seems like the PGA Championship is being played earlier this year, well, that’s because it is.

The PGA, which begins Thursday at Baltusrol Golf Club, has moved from its usual mid-August time slot to the final week of July to make way for August’s Olympics, which will include golf for the first time since 1904.

“It’s not ideal,” said Sergio Garcia. “But this is going to happen once every four years, at the most. It’s something we’re just going to have to deal with.”

There is usually about a month separating the British Open and the PGA Championship – the final two major championships of the season. But with the schedule change this year, the PGA is teeing off just 11 days after Henrick Stenson’s dramatic victory over Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon in Scotland.

“Preferably, one more week would have been a good thing,” Stenson said. “But at the same time, you’ve got the momentum and you’re playing well. So it might not be bad to get straight back at it. It could be a bit of both.”

The PGA will return to its normal spot next season, when it will be played Aug. 10-13 at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club.

“When we thought about it, we knew it was going to be different,” said PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua. “But it’s worked out well. It’s been a stress on the entire golf world, and for good reason. The Olympics are important, we’ll come back and we’ll have the FedEx Cup and then we have the Ryder Cup. It is something we’re monitoring closely.”

Observations

▪  Defending champion Jason Day has struggled the past few weeks, finishing tied for 22nd at the British Open Championship and tied for 14th last week at the Canadian Open. He’s seeking to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2006 and ’07 to repeat as PGA champion.

The week in New Jersey didn’t start well either, when Day’s wife Ellie had to go the hospital late Tuesday night after suffering an allergic reaction.

“We were there until two o’clock or something like that,” Day said. “So I'm kind of running on ‘E’ right now.”

Day said Ellie was fine Wednesday.

▪ This is the second time the PGA Championship has been played at Baltusrol. In 2005, Phil Mickelson won by a stroke over Steve Elkington and Thomas Bjorn.

▪  The PGA Championship’s Wanamaker Trophy is named after New York City department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker. The trophy was lost in 1927, when champion Walter Hagen said a taxi cab driver to whom he had entrusted the trophy lost it on the way to his hotel. The trophy was recovered three years later in Detroit, in the cellar of the firm that manufactured Hagen’s golf clubs.

▪  The PGA Championship is the only major tournament that includes professionals only. The field has 20 PGA club pros, led by Rich Berberian Jr., of Derry, N.H. Berberian recently won the PGA Professional Championship.

▪  Weather might be a factor. It’s not expected to be as hot for Thursday’s first round (only a high of 91), but thunderstorms are expected Friday. There’s a lesser chance of bad weather over the weekend, but it’s still there.

▪ Baltusrol will play to 7,428 yards, 242 yards longer than when the tournament was last held there. The 649-yard par-5 17th hole is the second longest in PGA Championship history, after the 653-yard fifth hole in 2007 at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.

They said it

“I’m not going to go into a cave and stay in there until I die because I didn’t win a major. It’s not that serious.” – Sergio Garcia, one of the top players who hasn’t won a major.

“Beef, I’ve met him once. He looks like a top bloke. Looks like a guy you want to go down to the pub and have a beer with, even if you don’t drink.” – Day, on England’s Andrew “Beef” Johnston, a bearded fan favorite who finished eighth at the British Open.

“It was champagne, it was champagne, it was champagne.” – Henrik Stenson, on how he celebrated winning the British Open.

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