Two high-profile PGA Tour golfers said this week that they will not come to the U.S. to play in the first several events of the tour’s mid-pandemic restart, highlighting the potential travel obstacles non-American golfers will face.
Adam Scotttold the Australian Associated Press that when the tour resumes in June, he’ll sit out the first seven tournaments, saying he was “surprised” the travel guidelines related to the coronavirus pandemic weren’t tighter.
On the flip side, Lee Westwood doesn’t see the benefit of flying in from his native England because of the enforced self-isolation for travelers coming from Europe to the U.S.
“Right now, I won’t be playing (the first two events),” Westwood said in a Golf Channel interview this week. “Not with having to leave here two weeks before, quarantine, then play the two tournaments, then come back here and quarantine again. It’s six weeks for two tournaments, and to me, that’s just not worth it.”
The PGA Tour season was suspended March 12 following the first round of The Players Championship. The tour has plans in place to return with the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 11. It will be the first of 24 straight weeks of competitive golf.
While most of the tour is made up of American players and a plurality of European golfers play on the European Tour, there are several golfers in Scott’s and Westwood’s position, having to decide whether to travel into the U.S. — the country with the highest COVID-19 case numbers — and play the PGA Tour schedule.
The postponed major championships won’t begin until Aug. 9 with the PGA Championship, but those also attract players from all parts of the world.
“I’m definitely going to sit out and see how the first few weeks of the PGA Tour pan out, and if things are progressing well, playing Memphis the week before the PGA (Championship) is a thought,” Scott said. “I would have to think about staying in the United States through the U.S. Open (Sept. 17). It’s going to turn into like a nine-week trip to do that, maybe more.”
Scott also said he was concerned that someone who has COVID-19 but does not display symptoms would be allowed in to a tournament.
“If they’re not showing symptoms and I somehow pick it up inside the course and I’m disqualified, I’m now self-isolating for two weeks,” Scott said. “I’d be annoyed if that happened.”
Another top non-American player, Tommy Fleetwood of England, will also skip the start of the PGA Tour restart. Ranked No. 10 in the world, Fleetwood said that he is “not going to travel to America and stay away for four months” because of travel restrictions.
American golfers, too, will need to make plans and potentially sacrifice family time to play the new schedule of events. Some states mandate that travelers entering from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana (all virus hot spots) must quarantine themselves for 14 days.
The first four PGA Tour events, at minimum, will be played without fans allowed on the course.
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