- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 8, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Even as the PGA Tour aims to end its FedEx Cup around Labor Day, that doesn’t mean the end of golf for the year.

Golf is the one sport where the length of the offseason is determined by the players, who can take off as much time as they want. Dustin Johnson played two times over three months at the end of last year and plans to do the same. Phil Mickelson once took four months off after the FedEx Cup ended.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is still working on the schedule for 2018-19 now that The Players Championship is going back to March and the PGA Championship is moving to May. But he made it clear that golf isn’t about to take a hiatus.

“If there’s a hard stop, I can see where that’s a benefit,” Monahan said. “We’re also not the only tour out there. And if you create openings in your schedule, those openings will be filled, and players will have opportunities elsewhere. Our job is to maximize playing and financial opportunities and create the platform for the players. That’s what has gotten us here.”

Jimmy Walker is among those who would love a big break, and he most likely will take one at this end of this year.

“I think an offseason does sound nice,” Walker said. “A couple months off would be great where you could just go home and relax and let your body heal and be with your kids and your family. … But anymore, it’s just run-and-gun all the time.”

Rory McIlroy said a break from golf would help build anticipation, much like the NFL. Fat chance of that happening. After winning the FedEx Cup last year, he played twice more in China and Dubai as a European Tour member.

This is not a surprise to Monahan, who said he has heard from a few players about a long break. This is nothing new. Monahan was quick to point out that top players compete in about 26 tournaments out of 52 weeks.

He also said players don’t want to fall too far behind in the FedEx Cup by sitting out the fall. Or they can take time off, like Jordan Spieth. A year ago, he took two months off after the Ryder Cup, won the Australian Open on a working vacation, played in the Bahamas and had another month off.


PGA GIFT: All the past PGA champions at Quail Hollow might have stars in their eyes.

While it doesn’t get as much attention as the Champions Dinner at the Masters, the reigning PGA champion also hosts past winners for a Tuesday night dinner. The difference is that wives are invited, and while the host - Jimmy Walker - is in charge of the menu, he also presents the past champions a gift.

Walker, whose hobby is astrophotography, gave each winner a telescope that allows images to be loaded onto their phones. He showed an example of one he took the other day of the moon.

As for the menu?

“We’re doing a really good meat-and-cheese and olive plate, and then lump crab and shrimp cocktail, and then a really nice steak,” Walker said. “Real steakhouse theme. French fries. Really good, spicy mac-and-cheese, Caesar salad, and I think there’s another salad if you don’t want that.”


LAND BUY: Augusta National now appears to at least have the property to expand the par-5 13th hole.

Augusta radio host Austin Rhodes shared a letter he obtained from the president of Augusta Country Club informing members that its board has approved a “purchase of property at our northwest boundary.” That would be the eighth and ninth holes of Augusta Country Club, which runs along the back of the 12th green and 13th tee box at adjacent Augusta National.

That gives the home of the Masters plenty of room to expand the tee on the 13th hole, which was last expanded 25 yards (to 510 yards) in 2002. Players now can take it over the trees down the left. Bubba Watson hit a big fade when he won in 2014 and had sand wedge into the par 5.

Golfweek magazine first reported negotiations over the land purchase leading into the 2016 Masters, and club chairman Billy Payne conceded that the 13th was one hole under consideration for change.

“We think there are multiple options where we could increase the difficulty of the hole and restore the shot values, only one of which deals with extending the length,” Payne said last year.

Meanwhile, the letter said Augusta Country Club would have new holes built to replace Nos. 8 and 9 at no cost.


RARE COMPANY: Rory McIlroy can join an elite list with a victory at Quail Hollow in the PGA Championship.

Only four players have won a major and a PGA Tour event on the same course. That starts with Tiger Woods, who did it on two different courses. Both majors were also in the same year as the tour event he won - Pebble Beach in 2000 (AT&T; Pebble Beach Pro-Am and U.S. Open) and Torrey Pines (Buick Invitational and U.S. Open).

Ben Hogan also won the Los Angeles Open and the U.S. Open in the same year (1948) at Riviera.

Jack Nicklaus won the 1975 PGA Championship at Firestone, and he won the World Series of Golf at Firestone a year later. Walter Hagen won the 1925 PGA Championship at Olympia Fields, and then he won the Western Open at Olympia Fields two years later.

McIlroy won in 2010 and 2015 at Quail Hollow, which did not host a PGA Tour event this year.


BROTHERLY LOVE: Dustin Johnson put his younger brother, Austin, on the bag when they were in Australia in 2013 and they’ve been together for eight victories, including a sweep of the World Golf Championships and the U.S. Open.

The value is in the relationship, though Johnson said after four years, little brother has learned the trade.

“He’s my best friend,” he said. “Having my brother there, we spend a lot of time with our caddie, so it’s someone you enjoy being around.”

Johnson still does the heavy lifting, even though he’ll ask Austin to read greens on occasion. But he kept it all in perspective.

“The days that I’m having to rely on him, it’s not a good day and things aren’t going right,” he said. “But I do have him there if I need him, which is good to know.”


DIVOTS: Jason Kokrak won the Long Drive Competition at the PGA Championship with a drive of 321 yards. Tyrrell Hatton (316 yards) was next, followed by Dustin Johnson (315 yards). … This is the third time the PGA Championship has been held in North Carolina. Lee Trevino won at Tanglewood in 1974, while Denny Shute won at Pinehurst in 1936 when the PGA was played in November. … Bernhard Langer turned down his spot in the field as the Senior PGA champion because of his schedule. He went from the Senior British Open to the 3M Championship in Minnesota, and after this week he has the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open followed by his title defense in the Boeing Classic. … David Toms, the 2001 champion, also chose not to play because of a scheduling conflict.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Jason Day has shot in the 60s his last eight rounds, and 12 out of the last 13 rounds, at the PGA Championship.


FINAL WORD: “He’s got that knack. I call it resilience. I don’t know if there’s a better word to describe what it is that he has. But he has got this resilience where he gets himself in positions in tournaments where you don’t think he can come back from, and he does.” - Rory McIlroy on Jordan Spieth.

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