PGA Tour optimistic overseas players & caddies can return to US

Bernie McGuire
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PGA Tour optimistic overseas players & caddies can return to US

Tommy Fleetwood delebrates winning the 2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

The PGA Tour says it is optimistic ‘overseas’ players and their caddies will be allowed to return the U.S. in order to be included in the June 11th planned return to competition.

The Tour says it will work with U.S. entry authorities and they will be able to assist in the return to the States of those players such as European Ryder Cup captain, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Adam Scott and the likes of Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie who competes on the Champions Tour.

“We are working with the Federal Government to facilitate the return of players and caddies who are currently residing outside of the United States, and we are optimistic that is going to occur,” said the Tour’s Senior Vice President Tournament Administration, Andy Levinson.

“We have a relatively large number of those players and caddies living outside of the U.S. whereas that number is a lot smaller on our Korn Ferry Tour and the Champions Tour.

“So, we are optimistic that we will be able to facilitate their return prior to our planned re-start.”

In an unprecedented scenario, the Tour will end what will be a three-month ‘lockdown’ absence with the June 11th commencement to the Charles Schwab Challenge at Fort Worth in Texas but under the strictest of guidelines.

And with this in mind, the Tour despatched earlier this week a 37-page ‘Health and Safety’ guideline document outlining all measures that will be in place for at least the opening four ‘spectator-free’ events.

The Tour admits some $100m in prize-money has ‘fallen by the wayside’ since the March 12th cancellation of the flagship Players Championship, that includes 10 events being cancelled and a number postponed, including the Masters, to later this year.

The opening four events then will be like none other as the Tour’s Senior Vice President Tournament Administration, Andy Levinson explained:

“To reduce the likelihood of exposure is to reduce the number of people on site and also limiting access.

“Access to the locker-room, caddie areas will be restricted. We will not allow player family members and other player support personnel that players and caddies are accustomed to having. We have taken the approach of looking at every single person who should be on site.

“It’s been like walking a day in their shoes and trying to recognize those touch points and understanding ways we can mitigate that.

“There will be disinfection and sanitizing stations in place all about the courses.

“We will be trying to extend the bubble, if you will, beyond the tournament to the accommodations in which our constituents will be staying, and ask them to react as they have been for the last few months and that is a safer at home policy.

“We want to encourage our players and caddies not to use dine-in facilities but to do take outs.

“There will be comprehensive, every day questions, temperature-taking and testing for the players and caddies, and those people in close proximity to them or certain staff during the course of their daily responsibilities who not be able to social distance at all times.

“We are fortunate that our sport is conducted on a large piece of property, and in some cases, over more than 200 acres and we very strongly believe we can operate in that proper physical distance.

“We will have access to face masks and other sanitary products such as disinfectant wipes, and we are going to promote hygiene while every piece of equipment on site will be disinfected. The Tour will also provide thermal testing equipment”.

The Tour says also it is optimistic, and with the help of the US entry authorities they will be able to assist in the return to the States of those players such as Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Adam Scott and Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie.

This was the view of Senior Vice President Tournament Administration, Andy Levinson who said:

“We are working with the Federal Government to facilitate the return of players and caddies who are currently residing outside of the United States, and we are optimistic that is going to occur.

“We have a relatively large number of those players and caddies living outside of the U.S. whereas that number is a lot smaller on our Korn Ferry Tour and the Champions Tour.

“So, we are optimistic that we will be able to facilitate their return prior to our planned re-start.”

The Tour indicated players and caddies will be sent a pre-travel screening test and will also be tested when they arrive in a host tournament city, this will more than likely take place at a host hotel.

Daily questionnaires and temperature screenings will then be applied with testing a required condition of competition, similar to the Tour’s current drug testing requirements.

Results for the PCR nasal swabs will take 24-48 hours and those waiting for results can still practice and play but will not have access to other onsite facilities.

“I don’t know what even to expect,” said World No. 3 Brooks Koepka in speaking to the Golf Channel.

“I am assuming no fans, that’s been said, but I am kind of in the dark. I don’t know too much about it.

“Whatever restrictions they put on, I am going to be in the first three events, so whatever I need to do to play those three events I am going to make sure I do.”

In returning to competition at the Colonial Club in Fort Worth it will mean just 13 events remaining in the 2019/20 wraparound PGA Tour schedule.

 

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