By Andrew Both
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - The reintroduction of golf at the Olympics was a major reason for moving the PGA Championship from August to May, starting in 2019, PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua said on Tuesday.
Bevacqua, speaking at a joint news conference with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan at Quail Hollow, said it was important for his organization to seize the moment.
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"The landscape of golf is changing and it's changing because of the Olympics," Bevacqua said.
“We think that this is in the best interests of the PGA of America and the PGA Championship to make this move to position us for the next hundred years of the PGA Championship.
"We felt it was important as an organization to seize this opportunity ... We feel May is a far more powerful date for us to contest our major championship."
Bevacqua also ruled out taking the PGA Championship overseas, at least in the next decade, a radical move that the body considered when it was weighing its various options.
The switch to May will ripple through the global golf calendar, not least reshuffling the order in which the four men's majors are held.
It will also allow for the Ryder Cup to be moved forward slightly from its traditional date in the first week of October, Bevacqua said.
Instead of being the final major of the year, the PGA Championship will become the second of the season, after the April Masters.
The U.S. Open in June will be the third major, with the British Open in July concluding the majors schedule.
The PGA Championship has been held in August since 1972, except for last year, when it was played in July to accommodate golf's return to the Olympics.
The next Olympics, in Tokyo 2020, will be held from July 24 to Aug. 9.
Monahan also announced that the Players Championship, the flagship event of the PGA Tour, would move from May to March.
The event was moved from March to May in 2007.
The 2019 PGA Championship will be played at Bethpage Black on New York's Long Island, with Harding Park in San Francisco hosting the 2020 event.
The switch to May should mean somewhat cooler weather than the traditionally hot and humid dog days of summer, and Bevacqua said it would allow the PGA to consider venues in the southern U.S. that previously had been off the table.
Reaction from top players was positive.
“I kind of like the changes,” said world number one Dustin Johnson, who likes the thought of one big event each month from March until the end of summer.
“It's going to kind of space everything out a little bit more instead of it all being kind of crammed together. So it gives you a little bit more time to prepare.”
Northern Ireland's four-time major winner Rory McIlroy was even more enthusiastic.
“To now have one really big tournament every month from March and to have the FedExCup most likely at the end of August or start of September; it just has a better flow to it, I think.
“I've been a big supporter of it from the first time I heard about it, and the announcement today, I think has been very well received by a lot of the players in the locker room.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; editing by Ken Ferris)