PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan addressed the media at noon local time on Thursday saying that the Tour would be adopting a ‘No Spectator’ policy for the remainder of the Players Championship and also next week’s Valspar Championship, the WGC – Dell Match-Play Championship, the Corales Puntacana Championship and the Valero Texas Open.
Now that decision has been reversed, with the Tour clearly having been placed under enormous pressure not only from players but also the business world, and those businesses who back the PGA Tour.
Many are now saying the decision should have been made before the commencement of this week’s PGA Tour showcase event where in truth the PGA Tour could not be seen to even be hosting ‘No Spectator’ tournaments when the rest of the sporting world is cancelling their events.
This was clearly a reality check for the PGA Tour and Monahan’s running of the world’s largest and richest tour and Monahan has taken the right decision in announcing the cancellation of events.
“It is with regret that we are announcing the cancellation of THE PLAYERS Championship.
“We have also decided to cancel all PGA TOUR events – across all of our Tours – in the coming weeks, through the Valero Texas Open.
“We have pledged from the start to be responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process. We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate. But at this point – and as the situation continues to rapidly change – the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause.This cancellation announcement now places enormous pressure on officials at Augusta National to cancel the Masters, and if the Masters is cancelled then it will be the first Major Championship since World War 11.”
Monahan will again address the media at 8am Friday local time (12 noon Ireland time)
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy along with fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell have led the overwhelming reaction to the PGA Tour’s announcement at 9.50pm (Local US east coat time).
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better. You look at the trends and you look at everything that’s happening across the rest of the world, it’s in its infancy here in the United States, and yeah, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, so I mean, I think it’s a hard one because you look at volunteers out here and a lot of volunteers are in their 60s and 70’s and retired and you don’t want someone that’s got the virus that passes it on to them and then they’re susceptible.
For me, like I, my mother’s got respiratory issues and I certainly don’t want to get something and pass it on to her and all of a sudden there’s some sort of complication.
“So it’s scary time, and I think that the PGA Tour have made a step in the right direction and I think we just have to play it by ear and take it day by day, and if someone said to me yesterday, today’s overreaction could look like tomorrow’s underreaction. So just got to take it day by day and see where this thing goes,” said McIlroy.
Graeme McDowell added, “It is not with any surprise there has been a huge amount of pressure at a high level from all directions to respond to this virus alarm has been totally paramount. Trying to compare our sports to others from an arena point of view is not something that would step well with the world.
“I’m disappointed but this thing needs to be contained and with professional needing to be seen to be doing its part and realise we are insignificant in comparison to this global pandemic.
“So, what we’re doing here is insignificant in comparison to what’s happening in the world and it’s unprecedented, we just don’t really know how to react and didn’t really know what to expect. At one point I was nearly expecting the horns to go off out there and for us all to be taken off the golf course because, you know, obviously, we were kind of seeing
the news out there, hearing the news, everything that’s happening in basketball, kids walking off the court and it’s just such a weird, weird unknown quantity”.