PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Commissioner Jay Monahan announced late Tuesday the PGA TOUR will cancel four additional events in accordance with the most recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and the Office of the President of the United States in the battle against the Coronavirus pandemic.
The four events are the RBC Heritage (April 13-19); Zurich Classic of New Orleans (April 20-26); Wells Fargo Championship (April 27-May 3); and AT&T Byron Nelson (May 4-10).
Furthermore, the PGA of America is postponing the PGA Championship (May 14-17) for a date later this year, to be announced. Monahan videotaped a message at TOUR headquarters that was distributed to players along with news of the schedule change.
Here are the basics:
WHO WILL BE AFFECTED? On March 12, the TOUR made the announcement to cancel or postpone four weeks of events, starting with THE PLAYERS Championship, which Monahan called “the Super Bowl of our sport,” through the week of the Valero Texas Open, April 2-5. (Augusta National Golf Club then announced the postponement of the Masters Tournament, April 9-12). Tuesday’s announcement brings the total to eight weeks of cancellations for the TOUR along with its five supporting Tours, including the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA TOUR Champions, PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada, and PGA TOUR Series China.
WHAT ARE PLAYERS DOING WITH THE TIME OFF? Billy Horschel pledged money and joined the TOUR in helping to distribute 22 tons of food, once earmarked for THE PLAYERS Championship, to Feeding Northeast Florida, instead. Matt Wallace announced on Tuesday that he will donate half his money from THE PLAYERS purse to Blessings in a Backpack. Monahan said others have also reached out. “It’s no surprise,” the Commissioner said. “I see their hearts every single day, I see how much they care about our sport and our fans. You can’t move fast enough when people are in need. It’s inspiring to know that they have the confidence in this organization to make the right decisions, but at the same time they’re all raising their hands saying, ‘What do I need to do to help?’ It’s times like these that people come together and show their true grit and true connectedness.”
WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TO BREAK THE NEWS TO TOURNAMENT DIRECTORS? “It’s really hard,” Monahan said, “because these tournament directors, they’re working on this tournament 365 days a year, they’re working with their communities, they’re working with our players. They’re kind of the pulse for the game of golf in that community, and they so want to stage their events. I think the reality is that by the time we’re talking to them, we’re not surprising them. We’re all dealing with the same set of facts, and we all want to come to the right decisions together, so that part of it I feel really good about. But you can plan for all kinds of situations, but this one is really unique – just think about how much it’s changed since last Wednesday night, think about how much it’s changed in the last 24 hours. I think we can expect more of that, and the only way to counteract that is to be committed to communicating and to be honest and real about what you’re seeing and hearing and how it affects you.”
HAS MONAHAN BEEN IN CONTACT WITH COMMISSIONERS IN OTHER SPORTS? Yes, and the conversations, he said, have been helpful. “This challenge, this crisis, is affecting everybody differently,” Monahan said. “Everybody has their own unique considerations. To hear what others are going through — some of which is applicable to us, some of it not — it’s helpful to me as I think about all the things that we’re considering. But as it relates to the golf industry, I know every major golf organization is working not independently but together and trying to figure out, as we look to the end of the FedExCup schedule and the end of the 2020 calendar year, how do we put the best product forward for our fans and our collective interests.”
CAN THE 2019-20 SEASON BE SAVED? Sungjae Im leads the FedExCup standings through the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, but will there be a FedExCup Playoffs? It’s too early to say for sure, but it remains possible. “As we receive more clarity in the coming weeks,” Monahan said in his videotaped statement to members, “the TOUR will be working with our tournament organizations and title sponsors, in collaboration with golf’s governing bodies, to build a reimagined PGA TOUR schedule for 2020 that ensures the health and safety for all associated with our sport and a meaningful conclusion to the season. We will provide further updates when those plans come into focus.”
HOW CAN FANS STILL ENGAGE? Over the coming days, the TOUR, through its various partners, will make available its archive of past PGA TOUR competitions and additional programming for fans. More details will be made available soon.