A elite golf tournament that attracts the world’s best professional players may come to Memphis starting in 2019, a Cleveland business publication reports.
Crain’s Cleveland Business interviewed prominent golf journalist John Feinstein, who told the news outlet that FedEx wants to bring one of the four annual World Golf Championship (WGC) tournaments to Memphis. If that happens, a WGC event would move from its longtime home at the famed Firestone Country Club course in Akron, Ohio, the publication reported.
Such a move would be big news for golf fans in and around Memphis, which for generations has been challenged to attract more than a few of the top-ranked golfers to the PGA tournament here.
By contrast, the stature of the World Golf Championships is widely considered to be just under the four major championships and possibly the Players Championship.
FedEx has leverage in the golf world because it is the title sponsor for the season-long FedExCup, culminating with four playoff tournaments at the end of each season.
If FedEx succeeds, Feinstein told Crain’s, “the plan is to move (the tournament) to Akron’s spot in August.” In recent years, the FedEx/St. Jude Classic tournament has been played in mid-June.
FedEx had not responded to questions from The Commercial Appeal by midmorning.
But Darrell Smith, FedEx St. Jude Classic tournament director, said the report is “extremely premature.”
He noted that it’s common knowledge the normal PGA Tour schedule will undergo big changes in 2019. For example, the PGA Championship is moving from August to May and the Players Championship is moving from May to March.
“So I mean I think everybody has addressed there’s going to be a change on the 2019 schedule, but other than that, we’re solely focused on 2018,” Smith said.
“We got our dates for 2018. It’s June 4 through 10, and we’re rocking and rolling and going to put on the best tournament we can. Once the 2018 event comes and goes, then our focus will be on the 2019 event. We don’t typically get our dates until the next tournament year anyways.
“We didn’t know our 2018 dates until after the 2017 tournament. So anything on 2019 is extremely premature,” Smiths said.
Feinstein is a best-selling author, including “A Good Walk Spoiled: Days and Nights on the PGA Tour”—and contributes to the Golf Channel and PGA Tour Radio.
According to Crain’s, Feinstein first reported about the possible changes on his PGA Tour Radio show, A Good Walk Spoiled.
Feinstein did not tell Crain’s the source of his information, but cited multiple sources, the publication reported.
Much of the scheduling changes in 2019 result from golf officials’ desire to have the FedExCup Playoffs end before Labor Day.
Bridgestone’s sponsorship of the WGC event expires after the 2018 tournament at Firestone, Crain’s reported.