PGA Tour bans fans from tournament and future events due to coronavirus

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan held an emergency press conference March 12 at The Players Championship announcing that spectators are not allowed for the remaining three days of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, Florida, and for the next three weeks through the Valero Texas Open, before the Masters which is scheduled April 9-12.

HARTFORD, Conn – The PGA Tour took a strong stance today when it announced it would continue to play on but without fans, starting with the second round of The Players on Friday.

The PGA Tour’s decision because of the coronavirus comes after the NBA suspended its season on Wednesday night, several college universities and conferences canceled their spring seasons and NCAA conference tournaments were called off, including the America that includes the University of Connecticut. The Ivy League canceled its basketball tournaments, meaning the regular season champion would qualify for the NCAA tournaments. The two teams were Yale on the men’s side and Princeton on the women’s side.

The NCAA men’s basketball March Madness, scheduled to start with two play-in games on Tuesday, is still on, though that is subject to change. The NCAA women’s basketball tournament that will include America Conference regular season and tournament champion UConn is scheduled to begin March 19.

Here’s the statement from PGA Tour commissioner and Trinity College in Hartford grad Jay Monahan on the tour’s decision:

“Let me preface my remarks by reinforcing that the health and safety of our players, employees, partners, volunteers, fans and everybody associated with the PGA TOUR is our top priority.

“I’ve spoken to President Trump this morning, and I spoke to Governor Ron DeSantis a few hours ago as well. Our team is in constant communication with local health authorities in each market in which our tournaments are played, and we are tracking and monitoring the health information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization in addition to the travel advisories provided by the U.S. State Department. Both the White House and the Governor’s office have been and are supportive of the precautionary measures we have taken to this point.

The PGA Tour has announced that fans will not be allowed to attend The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass this week and for the next three events leading up to the Masters.

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

“With that as pretext, at this point in time, PGA TOUR events – across all Tours – will currently proceed as scheduled, but will do so without fans. 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 traveling internationally limit our ability to successfully stage the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. 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.

“This is a difficult situation, one with consequences that impact our players, fans and the communities in which we play. As I said earlier this week, we’ve had a team in place that has been carefully monitoring and assessing the situation and its implications for several weeks. We’ve weighed all the options, and I appreciate the input and collaboration across the TOUR, our industry, our partners and our members that got us to this point. We’ll continue with that collaboration, and I want to thank our fans for supporting the PGA TOUR.”

Worked as sports writer for The Hartford Courant for 38 years before retiring in 2008. His major beats at the paper were golf, the Hartford Whalers, University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball, Yale football, United States and World Figure Skating Championships and ski columnist. He has covered every PGA Tour stop in Connecticut since 1971, along with 30 Masters, 25 U.S. Opens, four PGA Championships, 12 Deutsche Bank Championships, 15 Westchester (N.Y.) Classics and four Ryder Cups. He has won several Golf Writers Association of America writing awards, including a first place for a feature on John Daly, and was elected to the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 2009. He also worked for the Connecticut Whale hockey team for two years when they were renamed by former Hartford Whalers managing general partner Howard Baldwin, who had become the marketing director of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the top affiliate of the New York Rangers.

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