Justin Rose, the 2-time defending champion at Turkish Airlines Open, and Race to Dubai leader Bernd Wiesberger balance often-competing demands of PGA Tour and European Tour
BELEK, Turkey – Professional golf is a much different place from just 12 months ago, and every player is trying not only to understand the differences but adjust properly to the tremor that is known as the schedule.
It may seem to be a slight inconvenience to those on the outside, but the move this year of the Players Championship from May to March and the PGA Championship from August to May set the dominoes falling. Once the PGA and European tours determined where events should be slotted, the players faced some decisions regarding their schedules.
The BMW PGA Championship, one of the European Tour’s flagship events, was moved from May to September, shifting some of the European Tour’s focus to the fall, after the FedEx Cup playoff finale in Atlanta.
At this week’s Turkish Airlines Open (tee times), two-time defending champion Justin Rose of England spent more time discussing how the schedule change has affected his performance this season. If he were to win a third consecutive TAO title, he would join Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam and Tiger Woods in winning the same event three times in a row on the European Tour.
“I was maybe critical of the major-championship schedule this year in terms of saying, I feel like they are all just lumped together, and we aren't able to focus on them individually,” Rose said here Wednesday, alluding to the fact that the Players and golf’s four major championships were held in five consecutive months, from March through July. “I'm just going to try to keep my game at a level and just sort of roll through the season and try and just focus on that. In the past, I've always tried to wave the peak and trough and try and hit it at the right time.”
Rose said his season will rate as slightly disappointing if he doesn’t put a tick in the winner’s column over the next couple of weeks, either here or at the season finale in two weeks in Dubai.
With a strong finish to 2019, Rose hopes to find form for 2020, which will feature the Tokyo Olympics on July 30-Aug. 2 and the Ryder Cup on Sept. 25-27.
Rose learned a lot during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro – not so much from the golf course but from the gymnasium.
“My wife [Kate] was a gymnast growing up. She was sports acrobatics rather than traditional gymnastics, but we went to watch the gymnastics, and I could not believe the chaos that they perform in and around,” Rose said. “It was like the noise, the announcements, the movement of other disciplines going on, trainers literally walking around the bars while someone is running at the vault. And this is four years of blood, sweat and tears, and they have to perform and execute their move with chaos, and I thought, God, we’re soft. Like the marshal just takes one step in the wrong direction,” he said, leaving the thought unfinished.
With many fans at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games being unaware of golf etiquette, Rose applied the chaos of gymnastics in winning the gold medal in golf’s return to the games after a 112-year absence. Starting with his pre-shot routine, Rose focused on not letting anything deter him and committed to playing through any distraction, whenever it occurred.
Now, Rose must adjust to a schedule that he says is not conducive to playing elite-level golf during the biggest events.
“It was a learning process for me this year, and for me it didn't actually work out that great, but I will learn and adapt and do a better job next year,” Rose said. “All the lads are in the same spot. That's the only good news about it.
“But I think there's going to be some tournaments that suffer because of it, and there's going to be some tournaments that gain. Guys that like to prepare the certain week before a major, that tournament is going to gain. Other guys don't like to play or don't think certain courses suit the major championship; those tournaments are going to suffer. I went major to major this year, which I've never done before, and I don't think that worked out great, so I might be forced to play tournaments that I wouldn't have.”
Bernd Wiesberger comes to Turkey on the top of the Race to Dubai points list after three victories this year: Made in Denmark, Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and Italian Open.
Coming off of an injured left wrist that forced the Austrian to miss a considerable part of the 2018 season, Wiesberger has excelled this year. Yet, he has 12 rounds to go to finish the job and then, like Rose, his focus will turn to the 2020 schedule.
“Going into next year, we'll kind of have to see how it all pans out,” Wiesberger said. “Obviously, the whole scheduling being really difficult with next year for me playing a couple more in the States and most of the majors and WGC events, and it all collects up a little bit, so we have to kind of see how the first half of the year is developing toward the Olympics and make a decision on Tokyo.”
Translated: Wiesberger would consider skipping the Olympics, depending on how his season progresses.
That just shows how difficult scheduling for the season will be in 2020 and beyond.
“It's a lot of travel for me and a lot of time in the air and going back to tournaments in the States that I've won over here in Europe to defend my title,” Wiesberger said. “It's difficult, in general. It's a bit more tricky for me, even for that fact. So, it will be marked up in bright colors that date, but it has to be decided as that first half of the season unfolds.”