PGA Tour exploring events without fans, sources say
The PGA Tour continues to explore variables for a return to competition, including playing early events without fans, multiple sources tell Golf Digest.
In a memo sent to players on Thursday, which was obtained by Golf Digest, the Tour said that it’s still targeting a return at the Charles Schwab Challenge starting May 21 at Colonial Country Club, but that it is evaluating options to “preserve the maximum number of events we can while giving us more time as the crisis evolves.” One of those options includes the possibility of playing tournaments without galleries. Sources told Golf Digest that the Tour remains in discussions with sponsors about that prospect, with a source confirming the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit—expected to fill the void left by the U.S. Open—will hold a spectator-less event.
The Tour acknowledged in the memo that it will lean on guidance from health and government officials when coming to its decision about when to resume play.
According to multiple sources, one framework proposed would be restarting at Colonial, but that the event would be moved to June 11-14. The RBC Canadian Open, which is scheduled for those dates, is not expected to be held. The Rocket Mortgage Classic would follow, with the Travelers Championship (June 25-28) keeping its scheduled spot. The Travelers is prepping for the possibility of no fans as well, but no decision has been made.
Once a final decision on a re-start date is made, the Tour said it will give its players a few weeks notice so they can prepare accordingly. “At a minimum, it is our hope to give the membership at least three to four weeks’ notice before restarting the season,” the memo said. “We understand many of you may be impacted by travel restrictions and/or the inability to practice in your area, thus we want to be able to give you as much time as possible to allow you to come back fully prepared.”
On Friday afternoon, the Tour held a conference call with members of its player board, and on Tuesday members of the Player Advisory Council will have a call to discuss further thinking on the schedule and the impact on player eligibility. That includes matters like playing a minimum of 15 events to maintain membership and field sizes.
Moreover, the memo noted that the points list for the PGA Championship will now conclude with the PGA Tour event that ends on July 26. Qualifying for the U.S. Open is still being determined, while the Masters field is already set. All players who secured a spot in the field for the Open Championship as of April 6, 2020, will remain eligible for the 2021 tournament at Royal St. George’s.
The Tour announced on Monday that it is moving its regular-season finale, the Wyndham Championship, and three FedEx Cup Playoff events one week later, starting the week of Aug. 10 and concluding with a Monday, Sept. 7 finish for the Tour Championship.