NORTON, Mass — This is not breaking news but for the first time in 16 years the PGA Tour will not be teeing it up over Labor Day weekend at TPC Boston.
Known for 13 years as the Duetsche Bank Championship then the Dell Technologies Championship for two years, the popular event had become a New England tradition where golf aficionados, corporate America, volunteers, families and sports fans gathered to watch the best players in the world do what they do best – make lots of birdies, shoot low scores that start with “6” and leave town with huge pay checks.
The Northern Trust will come to TPC Boston August 13 – 16, 2020, where the top-125 PGA Tour players will compete in the premier event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The return to TPC Boston will mark the 16th time in PGA Tour history and the first for the Northern Trust.
The list of distinguished champions since 2003 include Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and many more. For many years the Tour set up an easy layout on Labor Day, resulting in an exciting, good old-fashion shootout in the final round.
The stop in Norton in August 2020 will make official the shared custody of late-summer professional golf in the Northeast that the PGA decided was the best solution for the FedEx Cup that keeps TPC Boston in the mix.
Is every other year going to keep New England golf fans content?
Last week at Liberty National Golf Club, host of this year’s Northern Trust, a few a golf’s superstars weighed in about not coming to Boston and the New York – Boston alliance. Here are excerpts from some of those interviews.
Tiger Woods, whose charitable foundation benefits greatly in the Boston stop when play began there in 2003, won here in 2006, finished runner-up in ’04 and ’07, said he found it “ironic” how much he grew to love playing here.
Q. This year begins the toggling back and forth between here and Boston. You were so entrenched in Boston from the start. If Boston had been the odd man out, would you have been disappointed?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I would have, because Jay and I, we started at the event there. Huge relationship with Boston and with my foundation, and playing there, we love playing there. The fans were so supportive over the years. It’s a shame if we never went back to that market. I know we are guaranteed to go back next year, but it’s a shame if we never go back there again.
It would be nice if we’re able to get back there every other year, at worst.
Q. It’s sort of an odd alliance because of the great rivalry between the two cities. There’s no reason why you group where you would have felt an allegiance to Boston or New York? Any chance you did as a kid?
TIGER WOODS: No, the fact that — it’s ironic, because I had such a deep love for playing there, and played well there. Because honestly, when I grew up, we in Southern California, did not like Boston (laughing)
Q. This year begins the sort of toggling back and forth between here and Boston with this tournament. You’ve played well there. If it had been the odd man out and no return to Boston would you have been disappointed?
RORY McILROY: If we didn’t have a tournament in Boston? Definitely. It’s been a wonderful place for me over the years, but it’s also been I think a wonderful place for the TOUR. There are a couple of events that it seems weird that we didn’t go to Akron this year. It seems weird that we’re not going to TPC Boston.
But yeah, I was glad to hear that at least every other year; we’re going to go back there.
Q. There’s no reason, given where you grew up, that you would have a strong allegiance to Boston or New York, but they are such rivals and it’s an odd alliance. Did you add a kid maybe think more of the teams in Boston or more of the teams in New York?
RORY McILROY: No. If you had told me or asked me about the Yankees or the Red Sox when I was 12, I wouldn’t have known what you were talking about (laughs).
Q. This year starts the shared tournament between New York and Boston. Boston as at risk of the tournament not going back there. If that had been the case would you have been disappointed not to be in Boston another year?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I like Boston. A bunch of my buddies live up there, so it’s always nice for me to go up there and visit with them and see what they are up to, because obviously we’re traveling so much during the year, you don’t get to see them.
You know, Boston, it’s been good to me and I enjoy that place. So we’ll see.
Q. It’s such an odd alliance, because the two cities have such rivalries, NFL, MLB, all of it. As a kid, did you have any strong feelings about either town in that sense, or as an adult?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, as a kid, we came up to New York City a couple times. I didn’t really go to Boston so much until I got older, until I was in my 20s; early 20s was the first time I came up. One of my best friends lived up there and went to school up there. It’s been a place that I’ve visited quite a bit over the years.
Yeah, it’s interesting with the rivalries, and I guess you can Mark this do you know as one of them I guess.
Q. This starts the going back and forth with Boston. This is the first year and Boston next year. Jay Monahan yesterday gave you great credit for putting that idea in his head. Do you remember that?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, there are a number of players. I think everybody really liked going to Boston. Loves the fan base up there. The golf course has created some fantastic finishes. It’s a really good TPC golf course and a players’ golf course that should be in the rotation. Nothing against the courses here because they are obviously incredible and immaculate, as well. It’s nice to bring that back in for sure.
MARK WILLIAMS: You’re in a pretty unique situation where you’ve won this event and also at TPC Boston, the previous Playoff event, which is no longer, but this event is going to rotate between those two. Your thoughts on being able to go back to Boston and playing this tournament at that site again?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, look, I think actually three events for the Playoffs are better than four. I think it dragged out a bit too long. I think it will be interesting to see how this three-week stretch goes.
I see it being a positive overall for the FedEx Cup. With that, you drop an event, but rotating the event between these two major cities that have been great supporting cities of the game of golf and great sports fans is a nice thought that we’re going to go back and forth and be able to play in front of both crowds in the coming years.
THE MODERATOR: You won last year, the first two playoff events, in New York and Boston, and this event will now rotate between those two cities. What’s that going to be like to have that rotation going to start the FedEx Cup Playoffs?
BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, it will be interesting. Playing a golf course, a different golf course for the first start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs is obviously, I would think, for me, a little unique, but I’m sure most of the guys are used to that because they have experienced that. I haven’t experienced it fully yet.
But you know, I think between the rotations, it’s a great thing that they have it only being three weeks rather than four. It’s a long stretch. I mean, I did win two of them and still didn’t win the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and that still chaps me but it is what it is.
It’s going to create a lot of excitement coming into East Lake. With the new system this year, it’s definitely going to be a test to see what happens because you can literally be leading and go out on the first hole and double it or trip it will, and you’re right back in the ballgame pretty easily. So it’s a little different.
It’s a little weird, and we’ll see how it plays out. Statistically, it should play out the same, but sometimes statistics don’t go under the normal standard deviation. You never know.
Q. Going back to the toggling back and forth between Boston and New York — a couple of questions. If Boston had not survived, would you have been disappointed by that?
BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, 100 percent. The golf course, the community up in there, is fantastic. They were super supportive of the TOUR and it deserves a place in the FedEx Cup pops. I think what they did, making it three weeks instead of four weeks, is a good decision. I think it was perfect the way they did it. Needed to give us a little bit of a break, although they didn’t this year, but another story.
But to have us on the rotation for years to come is something that was necessary. That golf course is amazing. Obviously I’m biased because I won it, but I do enjoy it. I played well there the first time I went there.
Q. Following up on that, they are such rival cities, Boston, New York, the Yankees, and Red Sox. Did you grow up with any allegiance?
BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: I’m from California, partner.
Q. But you never know.
BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Well, that’s why I won both of them because I wanted them to feel the same (laughing) no, I’m just kidding.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, 48, grew up in Belmont, and his family are members at Winchester Country Club, had the final say in whether or not the PGA Tour stays or plays in Boston.
“The Boston – New York rivalry is one that I fully supported and fully supported as a Bostonian,” Monahan stated in a recent interview. “It’s a great rivalry, but you also have a lot of respect for every one of the New York franchises for the success they’ve had. I’d be lying to you if I said I was anything less than a 100 percent Boston fan.”
The PGA’s stop in Boston was nearly eliminated due to a long-anticipated change in the PGA schedule aimed at ending the FedEx Cup, its season grand finale now with a top prize of $15 million, before September. The reason for the change was to steer clear of the NFL and college football, which begin in September, and made formidable rivals for broadcasting ratings and overall media coverage and revenue.
In order to accomplish a late-August season wrap-up, the FedEx Cup playoffs, which previously began in New York in late August and then moved to Boston for play through Labor Day weekend, had to be trimmed from four to three events. Boston, where title sponsorship turned shaky in recent years in the wake of Deutsche Bank’s withdrawal, was in peril.
The idea for the Boston-New York format, according to Monahan, was sparked by a conversation he had with Jordan Spieth, who was then a member of the PGA Player Advisory Council, as the two made their way down the 10th fairway at the 2016 PGA Dell Technologies Pro-Am in Norton.
“He said, ‘Why don’t we rotate them? This event in Boston is fantastic, it would be a shame to lose it,’ ” recalled Monahan. “Until then, we were just thinking about it being in a fixed location, or a fixed market, but the more we thought about it the more it made sense. Looking back on it, it was an important moment.”
The benefit for Boston golf fans in 2020 is that the FedEx field will arrive at its max, 125, rather than in years past when the “first cut” in New York brought fewer stars (100) to the Hub.
Northern Trust, headquartered in Chicago, thus far has agreed to sponsor the tournament only through 2021. There currently is no guarantee what happens to the joint custody arrangement after 2021. All anyone knows for now is that TPC Boston gets at least one appearance at PGA golf in 2020.
Save the Date: August 13 – 16, 2020.