SPORTS PGA pledges to play it safe with Texas restart

SPORTS

PGA pledges to play it safe with Texas restart

China Daily

11:44, June 11, 2020

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan speaks to media in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on March 13, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The PGA Tour's 91-day hiatus will finally end on Thursday when play resumes at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

As one of the first sports to resume amid the COVID-19 pandemic, golf is taking center stage in Fort Worth, Texas, where the top five players in the world are set to appear.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is well aware of what's at stake.

"I think at this point you have a wide range of emotions. But the most important one, or the most prevalent one for me, is that I'm excited," he said.

"I know our players are excited. I know everybody that's been a part of this process is excited to stand our game back up in such a strong way this week at the Charles Schwab Challenge, with a field that features the top five players in the world and more than 100 PGA Tour winners coming back to a place that we've played at since 1946 at Colonial Country Club. I'm excited.

"To that point, it's hard to believe it will have been 91 days since we last played, but I'm really proud of the effort that everybody has undertaken to get us back there."

As part of the health and safety measures at Colonial Country Club, Sanford Health lab technicians have set up mobile testing units that deliver results in a matter of hours.

"To be able to have these mobile testing facilities and vans at our tournament this week at Colonial and every week going forward, to arrive and have that test turned around in two to four hours, and for us to be able to purchase all those supplies and provide all those resources, accomplishes both of those goals," Monahan said.

Even if a player tests positive, the tour is confident that proper measures are in place to maintain a safe atmosphere for players and caddies.

Players are tested prior to and immediately after their arrival in a host city, and once again to use certain areas of the golf course facility.

"What you layer on top of that is social distancing," Monahan added.

"The fact that we've identified ways to keep our players, caddies and all constituents separated from each other, we're not going to have spectators, we've got a pretty extensive sanitization protocol and we're going to keep that separation all the way through to the hotel and ultimately the charter flights that are going to move our players and caddies to and from events."

"We feel like we've done everything we can to mitigate the possibility that a player, caddie or anybody in our small bubble tests positive.

"But if they do, we'll come back to that original statement, which is we'll follow the guidelines of the experts."

Stellar cast

Sixteen of the world's top 20 will tee off on Thursday, but Tiger Woods will not be among them.

The 15-time major winner last played on tour in February at Riviera and missed the next four tournaments, including The Players Championship, with a sore back.

The world No 11 looked in good shape on May 24 when he and former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning defeated Phil Mickelson and six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady in a charity match.

World No 1 Rory McIlroy has been installed as the favorite this week, despite having never played at Colonial before.

Some players are unhappy that Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points are up for grabs at Colonial. With the European Tour not returning until late July and the Asian Tour suspended until September, players on those circuits feel at a disadvantage in terms of the rankings.

"Completely dumb from @OWGRltd but anyway least golf is starting," England's Andrew "Beef" Johnston wrote on Twitter.

Compatriot Matt Fitzpatrick, the world No 25, chimed in: "Very unfair, can't understand this!"

South Africa's 165th-ranked Brandon Stone tweeted: "Find this very disrespectful to all other tours around the world."

"Agreed! Either all Tours are playing for points or none!" said Austria's No 26 Bernd Wiesberger.

OWGR claims that the averaging formula used to calculate rankings will help mitigate the problem.

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