By Dan Reardon

Not too many years ago PGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem, tweaked the Tour schedule to put a significant event on the calendar every month, starting with the Masters and going through to the FedEx series.

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He moved The Players Championship from its March date, which often played opposite the NCAA Final Four, to its current calendar location in early May. This gave him, starting in April, the Masters, the Players, the U.S. Open, the Open and the PGA in consecutive months. (This year, because of the Olympics, the PGA and Open will both be staged in July.)

Finchem also had two WGC events in March — the Match Play Championship and Doral. All of these changes created long stretches, like January – February, when the Tour played without major media attention. Assessing the effect on the Tour’s overall profile is nearly impossible. But any success from the strategy has not been without consequences.

In the three weeks since England’s Danny Willett cashed in on Jordan Spieth’s misfortune on the Sunday par-3 12th at Augusta, the men’s tour has made stops in South Carolina, Texas and New Orleans. Two of those three events fielded first-time Tour winners, with Charley Hoffman in Texas the exception.

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In that same three-week interval, the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Rankings have combined for five starts out of possible 30 — four in the U.S. World number one, Jason Day, has been the ‘busiest’ of the group. Day had three good rounds at Harbour Town and a T23 finish. This last week, in the weather-shortened New Orleans event, he missed the playoff by two, finishing T5.

Six of the top 10 players have shut it down altogether since Augusta: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson and Willett. Bubba Watson actually broke his pattern with an eighth-place finish at an event in Europe. Rickie Fowler came off his “spring break” in the Bahamas with a T20 at New Orleans. And 10th-ranked Justin Rose managed only two rounds in the Crescent City, missing the cut.

This week at Wells Fargo six of the 10 are scheduled to appear, with McIlroy, Stenson, Scott and Johnson trying to shake off the rust before The Players the following week. McIlroy will attempt to repeat in Charlotte and win his third overall at Quail Hollow, scene of next year’s PGA Championship. Fowler returns to the venue where he posted his first PGA Tour win. Tour veteran Jim Furyk will tee it up for the first time in 2016; he has been out since last September with a wrist surgery.

Speculation had been high that Tiger Woods might also come off the disabled list, but the Woods cabal is non-committal on when we will see the 14-time major champion. We do know that he is signed up for the U.S. Open at Oakmont in mid-June.

During the glory days of the Tiger Woods era, some said there were two PGA Tours — the Tiger Tour, for the tournaments he played and the other Tour, for the tournaments he annually skipped. The new “monthly major” format may work well for Tour overall, but early in 2016 it appears to have created another split Tour. Headliners are scattered through the events that fall between the cracks of those high-profile weeks.

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Dan Reardon has covered golf for radio station KMOX in St. Louis for 32 years. In that time, he has covered more than 100 events, including majors and other PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour tournaments. During his broadcast career, Reardon conducted one-on-one interviews with three dozen members of the World Golf of Fame. He has contributed to many publications over the years and co-authored the book Golf’s Greatest Eighteen from Random House. Reardon served as Director of Media relations for LPGA events in both St. Louis and Chicago for 10 years.