COVID Reality Check for PGA Tour Before The Masters
Dustin Johnson is the 15th PGA Tour player to test positive for Covid-19 and when the world’s best golfer is struck down it brings home just how perilous are the times in which we are living. It also raises a serious question - if he has been following the rules, how on earth did he catch the virus?
If you have been closely following the PGA Tour since the action restarted in June you cannot have failed to notice that things are far more lax than in Europe, where Jbe Kruger withdrew from the Scottish Championship after a positive test. Social distancing between players is non-existent, caddies remove flags without wearing gloves, wives and girlfriends have been allowed to enter the so-called bubble and fans have been in evidence in properties that border the courses.
There is a feeling that complacency has set in so it is to be hoped that Johnson’s failed test will be a wake-up call for everybody involved in the game in the United States. This pandemic is no respecter of names and reputations.
It almost defies belief that spectators are being allowed into the forthcoming Bermuda Championship. Yes, the island has managed to keep the virus under some kind of control but why on earth couldn’t the PGA Tour have waited before giving the thumbs up to the readmission of fans? We have had two majors and the Tour Championship played with no galleries and I think everybody would agree that the quality of golf has not suffered.
Bermuda is a tourist destination and although there will be testing protocols in place, I cannot help but feel that there must be a huge risk of further transmission of Covid-19. Is it worth the risk? It might be worth asking the relatives of the 210,000 Americans who have lost their lives what they think.
(Tony Finau Tested Positive)
We have all missed the special atmosphere that fans bring to sporting events. Tyrrell Hatton said that his only regret about winning the BMW PGA Championship was that his victory was greeted in near silence. But there will be other tournament wins for the Englishman. There will be other PGA Championships.
Hatton, of course, is not the only golfer to say he is missing fans. It is quite clear that the lack of atmosphere has affected the form of Rory McIlroy, who has struggled since the restart. Tiger Woods, too, admits that he hates playing in silence. But this is the new normal and everybody has to accept it, whether they like it or not.
It is almost unthinkable that The Masters will take place at Augusta in November without galleries. The roars that echo around the course on the final day are what make this such a special tournament, but this year’s champion will still be pulling on the Green Jacket and will still go down in history as a major champion.
The pandemic shows little signs of easing its grip on the world. Here in Britain we are being hit by a second wave. In the United States there has been no let-up and it is hardly surprising when you see thousands of people attending a presidential rally while steadfastly refusing to wear face masks.
When the PGA Tour returned, everybody involved other than players and caddies wore masks at all times. Have you noticed just how many of them are now failing to do so? Why not?
We presume that Dustin Johnson has been following the rules but he still managed to contract Covid-19. As did Tony Finau. And as have 13 other professionals.
I am not suggesting that professional golf goes back into lockdown but I do believe it is time to reassess things. 15 positive tests is 15 too many. And it is still not too late for a rethink on the decision to allow fans in for the Bermuda Championship.
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