- Bob Harig, Senior Golf Writer
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If it appears a bit odd that the PGA Tour would announce the 2009 schedule without being able to say when one of its premier events will be staged well, it is. The NFL certainly wouldn't put out its schedule without a date for the Super Bowl, right?
The Tour Championship is not the Super Bowl, but it is the closest thing the PGA Tour has to such an event, the culmination of its FedEx Cup schedule and season-ending playoffs.
So while it is awkward that all the events leading up to it were announced Tuesday with a "to be determined" attached to the 30-player big-money event in Atlanta, the tour does have its reasons.
It is looking out for the players, who have made it known that they prefer a break in the four-tournament playoff run that they did not have in 2007 but did enjoy this year because the Ryder Cup was part of the mix.
And so far, the tour schedule makers have been unable to work out the necessary issues which would allow them to move the Tour Championship at East Lake back a week, from Sept. 17 to Sept. 24. Otherwise, they would have just scheduled it for the earlier week -- meaning no time off in the playoffs -- and been done with it.
"We're working to build in a week off, but we need to work out the details," said Ty Votaw, the tour's executive vice president for communications and international affairs. "We didn't want those details to hold up the full schedule, which is fully sponsored and very good."
There were no surprises in the main part of the schedule. The Buick Invitational and FBR Open trade places a month into the season. The Florida swing will have a different look, with the CA Championship moving from fourth to second after the Honda Classic and followed by the Transitions Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Because the Valero Texas Open has been moved to the spring, there will now be a Texas swing following the Players Championship -- starting with the Texas Open and followed in subsequent weeks by the HP Byron Nelson Championship and Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
The Buick Open, which was played two weeks after the U.S. Open this year, will move to two weeks after the British Open, meaning there will be three tournaments between the Open and the PGA Championship instead of two.
Then, as has been the case the past two years, the FedEx Cup playoffs begin two weeks after the PGA, with The Barclays, followed by the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship. In 2007, the Tour Championship followed the next week. This year, because of the Ryder Cup, a week off was built into the schedule with the Tour Championship following the Ryder Cup.
Several big-name players had complained about playing the four playoff events followed by the Ryder Cup, so the tour scrambled to accommodate them in 2008. It appears the same thing is happening now -- Votaw said East Lake can stage the event either week -- with television concerns likely the big issue to remedy.
"If it's determined that we can't do that, we'll go with the four consecutive weeks," Votaw said. "I think the week off this year was well received by everybody. We're working to see if we can do that next year. And we've looked into it for future years as well. We feel pretty good that we can do that. It's just a matter of getting the details done for '09."
Once those details are worked out, the Fall Series part of the schedule can also be wrapped up. Because the Texas Open moved to the spring, the tour was working on a replacement tournament, possibly in Georgia.
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.
17hKevin Van Valkenburg