The Shag Bag: Coronavirus Edition
No Golf For A While
After the NBA suspended its season on Wednesday, following confirmed reports that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19, an unprecedented domino effect ensued across professional sports. The NHL and MLB followed the NBA’s lead the following day, suspending their seasons. March Madness and the XFL season were cancelled soon after, followed by the announcement of suspended seasons from the MLS, NLL and ATP, leaving the PGA Tour as one of the last standing professional sports still operating. Play went on as usual on Thursday at the Players Championship—although commissioner Jay Monahan did announce at noon that, beginning the next day, fans would be barred from attending any PGA Tour events through the Valero Texas Open—and Hideki Matsuyama actually threw down a course record tying 9-under 63 to jump out to the lead.
The Round 1 leader @THEPLAYERSChamp.
Highlights from Hideki Matsuyama's course record-tying 63. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/s76XwhQTMl
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 12, 2020
But it was all for naught. That night, the PGA Tour announced it was cancelling the Players Championship and the next three events due to “the rapidly changing situation.” A tough call, no doubt, but one that had unanimous player support:
Players react to the news of the PGA TOUR's season being suspended. pic.twitter.com/jupo5HH3Am
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 13, 2020
Et tu, Augusta?
The Masters hadn’t made an official announcement about its status on Friday morning, infusing sports fiends and gamblers everywhere with hope that notoriously obstinate Augusta National would proceed with the year’s first major as planned. Since 1934, only three Masters tournaments have been cancelled, and all three instances were a result of WWII. Around noon, however, word had spread that the Masters had been postponed: “Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision,” said Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley in a statement. “We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.” We can only hope for the best, but it’s difficult to envision where exactly the Masters could slide into the PGA Tour’s jam-packed schedule without bumping another event.
— Tim Perez (@timperezVA) March 13, 2020
Only four things are certain at this point in time:
- It’s going to be a long, bleak spring.
- The immediate Augusta community, which relies on the annual tourist revenue the Masters generates, is going to take a financial hit as a result of this announcement.
- If the Masters is indeed played later this year, Augusta National will look considerably different with a noticeable lack of azaleas in the background.
- The Masters could theoretically bump any tournament remaining this year, with perhaps the exceptions of The Open and the US Open, and nobody but the affected tournament would care.
Where to now?
I was going to use this space to list all of the tournaments across every professional and collegiate tour that have either been cancelled or suspended, but there’s really no need. Everything has [rightly] been called off out of precaution, so instead I’m going to list a bunch of funny videos for us all to enjoy because tensions and anxieties are getting pretty high and we could all use a good laugh or two right now. Without further adieu:
A Little Left
It wasn’t all bad news at the Players Championship. In the caddie competition during Wednesday’s practice round, Retief Goosen’s looper, Jeff Johnson, hit an iron strike so poorly on the iconic 17th hole that a spectator in the grandstands caught his ball on the fly. Please note that the 17th hole at Sawgrass is an island green. How Johnson managed to miss it and the humongous surrounding body of water around it is astonishing!
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) March 11, 2020
Sticks and Stones
This fan got tossed from the first round of the Players Championship for asking Patrick Reed if he would sign his shovel. Kind of an overreaction, if you ask me . . . the guy was bluffing; he didn’t even have a shovel!
Golf Course Animal of the Week
This is the type of interspecies teamwork I like to see on the golf course.
Whiff of the Week
Good lord! This guy never had a chance:
Yet Another Prodigy
There have to be at least a dozen kids on Instagram, aged 3 and under, who are legitimately better than me at golf—and I hate all of them.
Gifs of the Week
Even when you know what’s coming, it’s still funny.
This guy ought to have known better.
Trick Shot of the Week
This kid was about 2 inches away from having a very different childhood . . .