Home Sports PGA Tour aces coronavirus return in what was weird week

PGA Tour aces coronavirus return in what was weird week

0


FORT WORTH, Texas — Well, it worked.

The PGA Tour pulled it off, conducting its first tournament after a three-month hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it was done safely and successfully.

For one week at least, the mission was accomplished.

It was the first mainstream American professional sporting event that has been staged since the pandemic put a pause to every sport back in March.

And, other than the lack of 25,000 spectators per day and a few good parties in the corporate tents around the grounds, the Charles Schwab Challenge and Colonial Country Club could not have delivered any better this week.

Make no mistake: This event was a guinea pig, a test balloon — not just for golf but for every professional league preparing to restart its season as we all try to move forward in search of whatever the new normalcy will be.

The success this week began with all 148 players and their caddies testing negative for COVID-19, and it ended with a compelling final-round shootout, with Daniel Berger winning in a playoff and slipping on the signature tartan blazer that comes with victory at Colonial.

The PGA Tour did well in this unprecedented return from coronavirus.
The PGA Tour did well in this unprecedented return from coronavirus.AP

At the end of the day, though, with all kudos going to Berger, the most important end game to the week was not who won, but the fact this event safely arrived to the finish line and now the tour may move on with confidence to this week’s RBC Heritage Championship at Hilton Head, S.C.

“I think it’s gone about as well as we could have hoped for,’’ PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said Sunday. “There’s more work to be done. This is about a sustained return. But I think as we sit here late in the day on Sunday, there’s no question that this has been an exceptional week.’’

Monahan was asked if the overriding emotion from the week is relief or excitement, and he said, “I think it’s a sense of excitement. [But] you can’t have one without the other, I guess, in this environment.’’

What kept him up at night leading into this historic restart?

“I think the biggest concern, given the amount of time that we put into our testing and safety protocols, was that even though we felt really good about the plan we had in place, if we saw the number of tests that were positive or we got into a situation where we were dealing with a number of positive tests, that’s something, candidly, that I lost a lot of sleep over in the weeks that preceded coming in there,’’ Monahan said. “A lot of challenges, but I would say that would probably have been the biggest concern because it’s the one that we’ve all been dealing with, wrestling with, trying to understand and trying to prepare for.’’

It was an historic, weird and sometimes moving week.

“I would say it’s hard to pick a favorite moment because there’s so many along the way,’’ Monahan said. “I think just everybody being back together and being on property on Thursday, recognizing that the PGA Tour was returning, and to see our players back together.

“It’s almost like when you went away for school for the summer and then you come back in the fall, those first couple days, seeing people that you haven’t seen in a while. That was the thing that was, to me, really, really powerful and meaningful. And, then when you add on top of it the 8:46 moment [the vacated tee time moment of silence to recognize the George Floyd tragedy]. Thursday morning was really, really a meaningful moment.’’

Bubba Watson said he didn’t think the PGA Tour “can do any better’’ than it did this week.

“It’s exciting to be playing again,’’ runner-up Collin Morikawa said. “There [were] going to be people that range from all different points of view, whether they’re afraid, whether they’re not afraid, and how do you put everyone together and have a balanced field of you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do everything.

“Everyone went through the testing, everyone did what they needed to do. We still have to follow these guidelines and maintain safety and strict rules with how far we stay from each other because it’s still out there.

“Obviously, we don’t know how bad it is at any given moment. We don’t know who has it, if they have it, whether they’re symptomatic, asymptomatic. We just have to be cognizant of what’s around us and where we put ourselves because we want the Tour to keep playing. We want to keep playing.’’

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here