TPC to move to May in 2007

Published: Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 8:55 p.m.
What has been whispered for months and debated for several years became reality Wednesday when the PGA Tour released the results of television negotiations for 2007.
The Players Championship, the tournament always fighting for status as the fifth major, will move to May next year from its usual March date.
"We've been talking about this change for awhile and we feel that the change allows us to increase the profile of this event and make it an even bigger major championship than it already is," said Brian Goin, the executive director of The Players. "I've heard that we made the move for weather reasons, but it's not solely about weather. It has more to do with the length of the days. The move to May gives us an extra hour of sunlight and positions us to stand alone and offer our clients a lot more."
The question of whether or not to move the tournament became louder when last year's event was forced into a Monday finish for the third time in five years.
The Players also has had to compete with March Madness for coverage and attention around the country and placing the tournament in May gives men's professional golf five big tournaments in consecutive months starting with The Masters in April.
More than anything, said Goin, it was the sun going down just after 6 p.m. that influenced the decision.
"Any bump in the weather on Sunday and we could not finish," he said. "We feel that now this has a chance to be a major sporting event in the world."
The PGA Tour also announced the tournament would be televised with limited commercial interruption by NBC.
"We have three sponsors," said Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. "You know, they have all the units or advertising units. The total number of advertising units is significantly reduced from normal levels.
"It will be - what you will see is very similar to what you see at Augusta. We think The Masters is, from a viewer standpoint, the No. 1 best viewing experience for a fan. We think that The Players Championship now will be right there along with it, and with this golf course and the kind of feel we have on this golf course, we think it's going to be a special time for the golf fan."
The tour will be found on only two of the three major television networks starting in 2007 under six-year deals with CBS Sports and NBC Sports, with the first two rounds of every tournament and selected other events relegated to The Golf Channel.
The departure of ESPN and USA Network is a boon for The Golf Channel, and Finchem believes it will help to have the first two rounds of every tournament on the same cable network.
Finchem said the full 2007 schedule will be announced in the next week, with minor moving parts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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