PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has defended the decision to allow tournaments to continue during the coronavirus pandemic.
While other sports in the United States have been suspended or cancelled in response to the outbreak, PGA Tour events will go ahead as planned without spectators on site.
The policy takes effect from Friday’s second round of the Players Championship and continues until the Masters, which is understood to be considering its own response to the rapidly-evolving situation.
The Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic, which was scheduled for March 26-29, has also been postponed.
PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan provides an update on THE PLAYERS Championship and beyond. https://t.co/PmWDICHvuG— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 12, 2020
Asked why the PGA Tour had not followed the lead of Major League Soccer and the NBA in shutting down entirely, Monahan told a press conference: “If you look at our venues, obviously we are an outdoor sport and here at TPC Sawgrass our players are making their way over 400 acres.
“Over the course of a round our players do socially distance themselves, so we felt like by taking the step to address the problem with our fans, we’re in a position where we can continue to operate the events, as of right now.”
Monahan said he had been in “frequent discussion” with organisers of the Masters, who are expected to give an update on the year’s first major championship next week.
Golf.com senior writer Alan Shipnuck shared a text on social media from an Augusta National member which read: “I believe the tournament will be played. Discussions are ongoing.
“Limiting patrons seems likely. Might be none at all. Closing practice rounds, cancelling the Par-3…everything is on the table. Expect an announcement next week.”
Monahan had earlier outlined the Tour’s stance after speaking to US President Donald Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
“At this point in time, PGA Tour events across all tours will currently proceed as scheduled, but will do so without fans,” Monahan said.
“This policy starts at The Players Championship tomorrow (Friday) and continues through the Valero Texas Open.
“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.
“Further, the recently announced travel advisories and potential logistical issues associated with players and staff travelling internationally limit our ability to successfully stage the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship (in the Dominican Republic).
“Therefore, we are going to postpone that event and will provide details in the coming weeks on a reschedule as this situation develops.
“We will continue The Players with essential personnel only, and we will be in direct conversations with those groups (vendors, broadcasters, media, player support groups, essential volunteers) to provide instructions.”