PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic, the Players Championship will continue to be played this week at TPC Sawgrass but will do so without spectators for its final three days of competition, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said on Thursday.
The ban on fans will continue for the next three weeks, through the Valero Texas Open, and be enforced on all of the organization’s tours, which includes the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour Champions.
“PGA Tour events, across all tours, will currently proceed as scheduled, but will do so without fans,” Monahan said in a press conference Thursday afternoon. “It's important to note, that could change, but for the time being, this decision allows the PGA Tour, our fans and constituents to plan, prepare and respond as events develop.”
Monahan added that tour officials had been in talks with President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the hours since the tour issued an overnight statement that said the opening round of the Players would proceed as scheduled and do so with fans in attendance.
The tour also announced that the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship will be postponed. The event was scheduled for March 26-29 in the Dominican Republic and opposite the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship. That decision was made in light of recently announced travel advisories and potential logistical issues associated with players and staff traveling internationally to the event.
Monahan also said those already in attendance for Thursday's opening round would be allowed to remain at TPC Sawgrass, but that it would issue refunds or exchanges for anyone not comfortable with attending.
The news came a day after the NBA announced that it was suspending its season amid growing Coronavirus concerns and the NCAA said it would play its men’s and women’s tournament basketball games without fans. More cancellations soon followed with the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and American Athletic Conference all pulling the plug on their conference tournaments on Thursday shortly before Monahan met with the media.
Later on Thursday, the NCAA announced it was cancelling the men's and women's basketball tournaments, as well as all other winter and spring championships.
The tour said that it contemplated canceling upcoming tournaments but decided that the best decision was to continue playing, adding that the situation remained fluid and was subject to possible change.
“We feel like based on where we are in St. Johns County, we feel that this is a safe environment to move forward with a tournament of 144 players with limited personnel on-site, and we're comfortable that this is the right path forward,” he said. “But that is something that we'll continue to consider as we go forward.”
The Masters, meanwhile, scheduled for April 9-12 at Augusta National, is reviewing contingencies for this year’s tournament, multiple sources have told Golf Digest, while the PGA Championship, scheduled for May 14-17 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, remains on track. Reports earlier this week said organizers of the PGA Championship were looking at a potential contingency plan that included the possibility of moving the event to TPC Sawgrass, but for now that does not appear to be the case.