After the PGA Tour had three positive coronavirus tests at the Travelers Championship earlier this week, it was certainly time to make some changes to the current format. On Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said that extra testing and stricter monitoring of protocols would go into place.
Throughout the PGA Tour and the developmental Korn Ferry Tour, there were 2,757 administered tests with only seven of them coming back positive.
Golfer Cameron Champ and caddies Ricky Elliott (caddy for Brooks Koepka) and Ken Comboy tested positive upon arrival at TPC River Highlands, home of this weekend’s event. Golfer Nick Watney tested positive on Friday at last week’s RBC Heritage and was forced to withdraw upon doing so.
Koepka and his brother, Chase, both withdrew despite not testing positive – Graeme McDowell did the same despite not testing positive.
“It’s a low number, and it’s a low number on a percentage basis, but every number hurts,” Monahan said. “As we look at where we are now, I think we all need to remind ourselves that we’re learning to live with this virus, and we all need to learn to live with this virus — as individuals, as family members and certainly within our businesses. It’s pretty clear that this virus isn’t going anywhere.”
Among the changes we’ll see:
- Players who take charter flights arranged by the PGA Tour – in addition to a hopeful negative test on Saturday to board Monday’s flight — to take another test at the tournament site. Those players traveling on their own will be required to do the same.
- Instructors, who are allowed on-site and the driving range, are under the same testing guidelines as players. In the first three tournaments on the new schedule, instructors were not required to be tested.
- The PGA Tour’s fitness trailer will be at next week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic, with certain rules in place. There was a crucial decision to keep players from visiting local gyms in the area where the event is being played.
Taken Care Of
The PGA Tour will give a stipend to players and caddies that test positive and are required to self-isolate. Monahan said players and caddies still need to follow protocols to receive that stipend.
Monahan said the lack of spectators — and the fact that caddies and players know one another — has likely led to some complacency.
“I think over the first couple weeks, we’ve seen some instances where … let’s say we’ve gotten a little bit lax or away from protocol,” he said. “Full disclosure: I’ve done it myself, and I think that’s the kind of tightening that we need to do in order to make sure we continue to be in a good position to move forward.”
There were some that thought the PGA Tour would have to shut down. Apparently, that was never under consideration.
“I think this is the reality of what we’re all living under,” Monahan said. “For us, we are doing everything we can to make that not be the case. I don’t think anybody should be surprised. I’m certainly hopeful we won’t. But to be able to say that we’re not going to have any cases and to be able to look in the eye and say we’re not going to have any cases would be disingenuous because we are all learning as we are going.”
Golf has already shown that you can have minimal positive testing and continue on. Hopefully, the rest of the sports world can catch up to the rest and get back to normal. It will be tough, however, for those sports that have a ton of physical contact.