BLAINE, Minn. — Hollis Cavner serves on several committees with the PGA Tour and has participated in many of the decision-making phone calls over the past few weeks, and the 3M Open’s executive director thinks the moves the Tour has made thus far have been “really, really good” — Monday’s announcement included.
A revised PGA Tour schedule was released accounting for the new dates of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, PGA Championship, U.S. Open and the Masters, as well as the cancellation of The Open Championship.
The entire FedEx Cup playoffs will be pushed back a week so the PGA Championship can be played the first weekend in August. The U.S. Open will be played Sept. 17-20, two weeks after the Tour Championship, and the Masters will be played Nov. 12-15, seven months later than usual.
Not a problem, Cavner said.
“I’ll tell you what, there’s no prettier time to be down there,” he said of Augusta, Ga., in the fall. “Don’t get me wrong, I love it there in April, but having been fortunate enough to have played down there in November in the past, I can tell you the weather is gorgeous, it’s going to be nice and it’ll be beautiful," Cavner said. “And you know Augusta National and their crew will have this place looking so good it’ll be unreal. Quite honestly, it’ll look spectacular.”
The final four events on the 2019-20 season schedule are now the Tour Championship, the U.S. Open, the Ryder Cup and the Masters. Much of the rest of the PGA Tour’s schedule remains intact as originally scheduled. The first tournament set to be played when competition resumes is the Charles Schwab Challenge from May 21-24 in Fort Worth, Texas — two months prior to the 3M Open.
Cavner feels “really good” about the tournament being played as scheduled at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine this summer, from July 23-26.
“It all depends on what happens with the virus, of course,” Cavner said. “The PGA Tour is telling us to be ready to play at the end of July. We’re on weekly calls to go over all the details and everything and what to be prepared for. If everything goes like they think it will go with the virus and it starts to wane like they think, we’ll be able to play.”
Potentially with fans. Cavner said the events around the 3M Open’s time frame are being told to be prepared to play with spectators in attendance.
“We’re a little different from other sports. We’re playing over 250 acres,” Cavner said. “If this thing is waning, and it’s clearing some, you can be on the golf course. … Let’s face it, you could have social distancing pretty easy on a golf course. You could have the people out there and still have plenty of space and everything else. We’re outside, it’s not like they’re sitting in seats.”
Cavner was adamant that would only happen if it is safe for all involved, fans included.
“I’m just glad we don’t play in a stadium where it’s knee to knee and elbow and elbow” for spectators, he said. “At least you can spread out and kind of keep your distancing (on a golf course). I feel very good about where the Tour is going with coming back, and we just want this thing to get over and people to be safe. If the spectators are allowed to be there and all this other stuff, I think the people are going to come out in droves. I think you’ll see people still wearing masks and stuff like that, but that’s just going to be part of golf and sports for the first year.”
Originally, the 3M Open was sandwiched between The Open and the Olympics, which looked like a challenging date in terms of drawing big names who would be in the heart of their schedule filled with big events and heavy travel.
But now that the Olympics were postponed to 2021 and The Open was canceled, the 3M Open is surrounded by two open dates. Cavner said those open dates are essentially reserved so that tournaments still scheduled to be played could be postponed to one of those weekends if necessary.
Cavner has been calling and texting back and forth with players, and said they’re itching to get back on the course. Now the 3M Open appears to be in a prime position to draw big names.
“We’re going to have a tremendous field, I know that,” Cavner said. “We’ve already got big names committed to us.”
Cavner declined to reveal those names Monday, noting they’ll be revealed in a press release in a few weeks.
“But let’s put it this way,” he said, “we’re in great shape in the Top 5.”