PGA Tour won’t allow fans for foreseeable future due to coronavirus

PGA TOUR flag during the first round of the Korn Ferry Tour’s The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay golf course on January 12, 2020 in Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Ben Jared | PGA TOUR via Getty Images

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced Thursday that The Players Tournament in Ponte Verda, Florida and all tournaments in the near future will go on as planned, but without spectators due to the spread of the coronavirus. The policy goes into effect Friday.

The commissioner said he spoke with President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis earlier Thursday and is in constant communication with local health officials.

“It goes without saying that this is an incredibly fluid and dynamic situation,” Monahan said. “We have been and are committed to being responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process.”

The new policy continues through the Valero Texas Open. The Tour also announced the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship will be postponed as a result of travel advisories issued. 

“This is a difficult situation, one with consequences that impact our players, fans and the communities in which we play,” said Monahan. 

The commissioner appearing on CNBC’s Squawk Box earlier this week, said that the PGA Tour was relying on its team of experts, including the CDC and WHO, to make a decision on the tournament.

“We have leaders within our company that are pouring ourselves into this. Given the fact that we are playing all over the world and it’s an Olympic year. You have to rely on what’s happening on the ground in that marketplace,” he said. 

Florida has 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 2 people have died from the virus. 

“If we are put in a spot where we feel like we are not there, we would just do the right thing,” Mohanan said. “We certainly have insurance, but that is not how we make decisions.”

The PGA Tour is the latest professional sports organization to announce a change due to coronavirus.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that games will be played without fans in stadiums. Only team staff and family members will be allowed to attend.

Today’s announcement comes the same week the Tour announced a nine-year media deal worth an estimated $700M per year. 

When asked about closing the Tour to only players and essential staff, the commissioner told CNBC it’s difficult to do. 

“Our tournaments are played over 300-400 acres. When you have 156 players in a given week you have our shot link system, you have volunteers in place, the clubhouse, you have a fairly sizable operation.” 

The LPGA recently held the Daikin Orchid Ladies Golf Tournament in Okinawa without spectators. That is believed to be the first professional golf event to be played in its entirety without spectators.

This story is developing.

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