Golf

PGA exploring August Championship without fans

Even if no fans are present, the PGA of America plans to go ahead with the PGA Championship this summer.

'We believe that having it as a television event is worth doing,' commissioner says

PGA commissioner Jay Monahan is broadcast on a score board on the 18th green during the first round of The Players Championship in March. The second round was played without fans before being postponed. (Associated Press)

The PGA Championship plans to be at Harding Park in San Francisco the first full week in August as the first major on the reconfigured golf calendar.

Still to be determined is whether Harding Park needs to bother building bleachers.

"We believe that holding it without fans is a possibility, something we should try to do if we have to," said Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America.

The PGA Championship is still about four months out and golf, much like other sports, doesn't have a starting line yet. The PGA Tour was looking at the potential of a mid-June start, although plans can change quickly.

Even so, Waugh said the PGA is looking at various options to be prepared.

"Plan A is to play with fans at Harding Park," he said. "Plan B is no fans. Plan C is to call an audible if indeed we need to try to play it somewhere we can safely."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom reacted with skepticism on April 4 after President Donald Trump had a conference call with commissioners of sports leagues, including Jay Monahan of the PGA Tour and Mike Whan of the LPGA Tour. Trump said later in the day he believed the NFL would start on time.

"I'm not anticipating that happening in this state," Newsom replied.

What would that mean for golf? The sport and its arena are entirely different from seating in a stadium. The PGA Tour, when it was still trying to keep playing, had already laid out guidelines for not having fans at tournaments — a walking scorer, limited marshals on each hole, a reduced service staff.

Waugh said the PGA Championship doesn't officially have a contingency plan, which is not to suggest tournament officials haven't given thought to how the summer could play out. He said they were having constant conversation with San Francisco city leaders on the status of the new coronavirus.

"If they were to pull the plug, we would have a drop-dead date," he said.

Waugh did not say what that date would be, and he said the PGA of America so far was "feeling good about the city's willingness" to stage the event.

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