PGA Tour continues play but will bar fans starting Friday
The most frequent word used by PGA Tour players on Thursday was “strange.”
Strange to hear the news that the coronavirus had prompted every other major professional and college sport in America to either cancel or postpone competition.
Strange to think of playing in the Tour’s signature event with no fans at the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass lining the fairways or sitting behind the banked water hazards, waiting for good shots, and bad.
Strange to be playing golf at all.
“Nobody is taking this lightly any more,” said Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion.
The news was stunning but after a whirlwind chain of events on Wednesday night, hardly surprising.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced during a noon news conference on Thursday that over the next four weeks, beginning with the second round of The Players Championship on Friday, the Tour would conduct its competition with no fans present.
Only players, caddies, player support, their families, essential PGA Tour and TPC Sawgrass staff, volunteers and media will be present. The fan lockout, with hopes of helping combat the spread of the coronavirus, applied to the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions and the Korn Ferry Tour.
In addition to The Players, the Valspar Championship next week in Palm Harbor, the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, and the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio will be affected. The Tour buys another week after that because the Masters is scheduled to be played at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 9-12.
Masters and beyond: Monahan said the Tour hasn’t made plans beyond the Masters. The Augusta National Golf Club will make its own decision, since it’s a private club that owns the tournament. Monahan also said that given travel restrictions, a Tour event in the Dominican Republic that was scheduled to be played the same week as the Match Play, is postponed.
Monahan said he arrived at the decision after conferring with President Donald Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis, local health authorities in the markets where the tournaments are being played and his “business unit,” a dedicated staff of PGA Tour employees who were charged two weeks ago with handling issues related to the virus.