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Memorial Tournament changes plans, won't allow fans after all

July 06, 2020

Fans line the walkway to the clubhouse while waiting for autographs ahead of the 2018 Memorial.

Icon Sportswire

The Memorial Tournament hoped to be the first PGA Tour event since golf’s restart last month to have fans in attendance. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine cleared the way, and tournament officials as recently as two weeks ago outlined protocols for a limited number of spectators. But on Monday, tournament and tour officials announced a change in plans, deciding against letting in fans at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

The announcement comes on the same day that a report by the Ohio Department of Health showed a spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the state. After dropping to 381 total cases on June 12, the rolling seven-day average for new cases has more than doubled to 977 a day through Sunday, according to the report.

“While we embraced the opportunity to be the first PGA Tour event to welcome the return of on-site fans—and be a part of our nation’s collective reemergence from the COVID-19 crisis—we recognize the current increase in positive COVID-19 cases across the country and our ultimate responsibility,” said tournament director Dan Sullivan in a statement. “It’s disappointing to the many who have tirelessly worked to create a plan for on-site patrons, but I’m confident the learnings from these efforts will contribute to golf’s continued success, and we’re excited to showcase Muirfield Village Golf Club—and ultimately, the Memorial Tournament—to our fans over the next two weeks.”

So far, the four tour events staged since the PGA Tour's return have all been without spectators. That will also be the case for this week’s Workday Charity Open, a substitute event for the previously canceled John Deere Classic that also is being held at Muirfield Village.

As for when fans will be allowed to attend tournaments on the tour, that remains unknown. But it doesn’t appear likely anytime soon.

The 3M Open in Minnesota, which follows the Memorial on the schedule, has already said it will not have spectators. Ditto for the Barracuda Championship, July 30-Aug. 2, in Truckee, Calif.

The WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, which is scheduled for the same week as the Barracuda, has yet to say if fans will be allowed. Last month, executive director Darrell Smith said he was “cautiously optimistic.”

The PGA Championship, slated for Aug. 6-9 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, is also proceeding without galleries.