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TPC Harding Park Lands 2020 PGA Championship and Two Other Events

TPC Harding Park Lands 2020 PGA Championship and Two Other Events

July 2, 2014

Harding Park

The City by the Bay has some serious golf events headed its way.

On Wednesday, the PGA of America, the PGA Tour and the City and County of San Francisco announced a partnership that will bring the 2020 PGA Championship, the 2025 Presidents Cup and the 2015 World Golf Championships-Match Play Championship to TPC Harding Park, a municipal course owned by the City and County of San Francisco. The announcement builds upon a strengthening relationship between the PGA of America and the PGA Tour and furthers the Tour’s 20-year partnership with the City and County of San Francisco that began with the rebuilding of TPC Harding Park in 2002-2003.

Among those attending the announcement, which was made at S.F. City Hall, were mayor Edwin M. Lee, PGA of America President Ted Bishop and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.

“TPC Harding Park is a world-class facility and San Francisco is a mecca of the best sports, cultural and entertainment events the world has to offer, so today’s exciting announcement only serves to further the City’s stature in that respect, and is a wonderful extension of our long-standing partnership with the PGA Tour,” Lee said.  “San Franciscans should be thrilled – and proud – to know they will be hosting both a major championship in the PGA Championship, a preeminent, international team event in The Presidents Cup and – in only 10-months’ time – a World Golf Championships event with a thrilling match-play format.”

Finchem too expressed his delight.

“Today’s announcement marks an exciting chapter in the history of The Presidents Cup and the World Golf Championships,” Finchem said. “Not only are we returning to TPC Harding Park, which was a spectacular and hugely successful venue for The Presidents Cup 2009 and a World Golf Championships in 2005, but we are also furthering this historic and important partnership with the City and County of San Francisco.  The TOUR’s commitment to Harding Park, now further bolstered by that of the PGA of America bringing the PGA Championship here in 2020, ensures golf’s longstanding legacy in this great city.”

As per the three events, here’s a breakdown:

2015 World Golf Championships-Match Play Championship

The 2015 World Golf Championships-Match Play Championship moves to TPC Harding Park after an eight-year run in Marana, Arizona (2007-08 at The Gallery at Dove Mountain; 2009-14 at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain), and following seven turns at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California (1999-2000, 2002-06).  In 2001, the event was played at The Metropolitan Club in Victoria, Australia.  The 2014 event was won by Australia’s Jason Day.

In addition to a new venue, the 2015 Match Play Championship also moves to a new date on the PGA TOUR schedule and a new format.  The event will be held April 27-May 3, the week prior to THE PLAYERS Championship.  That spot in the schedule has traditionally been held by the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2015, the Wells Fargo Championship will play the week after THE PLAYERS.

The format also changes. There, the 64-player Match Play Championship field will be divided into 16 four-player groups, with each group playing round-robin matches within their group on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The player with the best record in each of the four groups advances to the Round of 16 for single-elimination match play (in the event of a two-way tie in a group, head-to-head results will be used as the tiebreaker; a three-way tie will require a sudden-death playoff).  The Round of 16 will be played Saturday morning, followed by the Quarterfinals Saturday afternoon. The Semifinals will be Sunday morning, followed by the Championship Match and Consolation Match on Sunday afternoon.

The Match Play Championship agreement at TPC Harding Park is a one-year deal. The title sponsor of the event will be announced at a later date.

2020 PGA Championship

The PGA Championship in 2020 will mark the first major championship to be held at a TPC property and the first PGA Championship to be staged in San Francisco. In 2020, the PGA Championship – perennially featuring golf’s strongest and deepest international lineup of any major championship – will make its fifth appearance in California, following Hillcrest Country Club (1929), Pebble Beach Golf Links (1977) and Riviera Country Club (1983, ’95). TPC Harding Park will be the second municipally owned golf course to host the PGA Championship. The only other PGA Championship to be conducted at a municipal golf facility was the 1974 Championship at Tanglewood Golf Club in Clemmons, North Carolina.

“The PGA of America is proud to be taking its major championship in 2020 to the City of San Francisco, home to one of the premier venues that embraces public golf along with the skill to stage some of the game’s greatest events,” Bishop said. “It is exciting to be sharing today’s announcement with the PGA TOUR and the City of San Francisco. Together, we look to grow the game among new audiences and present the finest championships for the greatest players in the world.”

The PGA Championship is one of four premier golf events conducted by the PGA of America. Others include the Ryder Cup, the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, and the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which brings together the winners of golf’s four major championships.

2025 Presidents Cup

TPC Harding Park hosted The Presidents Cup in 2009, becoming the first West Coast venue to host the biennial, match-play competition and only the second U.S. site (Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William County, Va., in 1994, 1996, 2000 and 2005); Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, became the third U.S. site when it hosted the event in 2013. Iconic captains Fred Couples and Greg Norman captained the U.S. and International Teams, respectively, and the U.S. Team retained the Cup, winning for the sixth time by a score of 19 1/2 – 14 ½.  Woods sank the clinching putt for the U.S. Team, a feat he has now accomplished an unprecedented three times (2011, 2013).

The Presidents Cup, a team match-play competition featuring 24 of the world’s top golfers – 12 from the United States and 12 from around the world, excluding Europe – is held every two years, and since 1996 has alternated between United States and international venues. The Presidents Cup was developed to give the world’s best non-European players an opportunity to compete in international team match-play competition. The U.S. Team has won eight of the 10 previous Presidents Cups, and the only outright win by the International Team came at the 1998 event in Melbourne. A historic 17-17 tie came in 2003 when the event was held in South Africa.

TPC Harding Park

TPC Harding Park, situated on a gently rolling peninsula surrounded by the shores of Lake Merced in San Francisco’s southwest corner, has reclaimed its stature as one of the top public golf properties in the United States.  Formerly Harding Park Golf Club, the course opened for play in 1925 after a design by noted architects Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, who also oversaw the construction of the Olympic Club. Officials named the course after President Warren G. Harding; the 29th President of the United States was an avid golfer who died at the Palace Hotel in 1923 during a visit to San Francisco.

The course became immediately popular and gained national notoriety when the United States Golf Association selected the par-70 course to host the U.S. Public Links Championship in 1937, which again was played at Harding Park in 1956. In between, professional golf arrived at Harding Park, with Byron Nelson winning the 1944 San Francisco Victory Open.  In 1959, Mason Rudolph won the Golden Gate Championship at Harding Park, edging Dow Finsterwald and Bob Goalby. The PGA TOUR made Harding Park a TOUR stop in 1961 when it added the Lucky International to its tournament schedule; the event was played from 1961 to 1968 (there was no tournament in 1967).

While its signature event was the San Francisco City Championship, which attracted the best amateurs from California, a slow deterioration of the course began as it went from a jewel in the Bay Area to nothing more than what some described as a clover patch by the 1980s. A San Francisco Chronicle story described the course: “Weeds, clusters of daisies and splotches of dirt came to characterize this once-pristine layout.”

Enter Frank “Sandy” Tatum, who had played in the San Francisco City Championship while attending Stanford University and stayed in the Bay Area, spending his career there as an attorney. Tatum had gained stature in the golf industry, serving as president of the USGA. Tatum became instrumental in turning Harding Park’s fortunes around, receiving assistance from local government leaders. As part of the renovation process, Tatum eventually turned to the PGA TOUR and the International Federation of PGA Tours, the governing body for the World Golf Championships. Under the direction of PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, the International Federation named Harding Park the site of the 2005 World Golf Championships-American Express Championship (now known as the Cadillac Championship).

In advance of the event, Harding Park underwent a 15-month renovation project that expanded the course from 6,743 yards to around 7,200 yards. The course reopened on Aug. 22, 2003, and the World Golf Championships event was held in October 2005. As Tatum envisioned, TPC Harding Park is also the site of The First Tee of San Francisco, which now reaches more than 80,000 young people annually through chapter programs and elementary schools.

The course was added to the PGA TOUR’s prestigious TPC Network of clubs in November 2010. Joining such properties as TPC Sawgrass, home of THE PLAYERS Championship and TPC Boston, host of the Deutsche Bank Championship, TPC Harding Park became the 32ndclub in the TPC Network. Entering a partnership between the PGA TOUR and the City of San Francisco, TPC Harding Park is operating under no management fees; thus, allowing both the city and the TOUR to give back to local communities through charitable donations.

The announcement of the events adds an even further dimension to San Francisco becoming a hot spot for golf. Earlier this year, Lake Merced GC hosted the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, which marked the first LPGA Tour event in the region since 2010. While there has yet to be a formal announcement, the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic will return to Lake Merced in 2015.

-Jerry Stewart

 

Author: Jerry Stewart

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