Commissioner Mike Whan says the LPGA Tour will not resume after the coronavirus pandemic until the majority of international players are able to compete in tournaments.
It was announced earlier on Friday that the US Women’s Open, scheduled to take place in Houston in June, had been postponed until December, as part of a move that saw the next five LPGA events postponed or cancelled.
Once golf resumes after the Covid-19 crisis, international travel is likely to prove an issue for some players and Whan insists that no events will be played until the majority of eligible players are able to participate.
Whan said: “Could I see us playing an event where our international players can’t contend? We really feel like we’ve got to be in the 75 per cent kind of range. In other words, about 75 per cent of the players who are eligible for the event who wanted to play in it could.
The LPGA informed players on Friday that the next five events on the LPGA Tour calendar have been postponed, with four of those five tournaments rescheduled for later this year.— LPGA (@LPGA) April 3, 2020
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“I really can’t see us running an event where if half of my field couldn’t play at an event, I don’t think I could call that official.”
Whan added that the sweeping changes announced to the LPGA schedule were designed to provide clarity for players and caddies.
“I think we’ve tried to hold out as long as we could along the way, but if you think about it, if you’re going to play an event in mid-May, you need to start putting spikes in grounds now in the first of April, worst case. So this is the latest you could not go.
“The reason we made the decision we did on the last six events, rather than just knocking off a couple more tournaments and moving all the way to mid-June, is driven a lot about travel bans because we’ve got players that aren’t sure if they should go home – or they went home and (are) not sure if they could come back.
“The anxiety of international travel is currently heightened, so I think by just establishing a new line in the sand and saying, this is the plan, we know that not just for players but for caddies too, it gave them some freedom to go ‘OK, I don’t really have to think about that part of it for quite a while now’.
“Everybody agrees that eight weeks from now is going to be quite a bit different. What does that mean? I don’t think anybody knows the answer to that.
“But rather than saying let’s check back in every two weeks, it was becoming uncomfortable and we were actually adding to anxiety, not relieving it, I think, for a lot of our athletes.”