The PGA of America have confirmed the year's first major will be behind closed doors and it's got two of our writers disagreeing about whether or not it should be played at all
If Brooks Koepka is to become the first player to win the PGA Championship three times in a row in the stroke play era, he will have to do in front of no fans.
With the US Open pushed back to September and the Masters moved to November, the PGA Championship will this year kick-start the major season at TPC Harding Park when it starts on August 6.
A statement from the PGA of America said the decision “was made in coordination with the state of California and city and county of San Francisco, with the health and well-being of all involved as the top priority.”
The PGA Tour returned to action at the Charles Schwab Challenge, the first of four events to be played without spectators on site, while a week later the Tour recorded its first positive coronavirus case when Nick Watney was tested.
The Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village, starting on July 9, will be the first to allow fans in – though only 8,000 will be allowed in on each day.
So should the PGA Championship go ahead? Two of our writers have their say…
‘A major champion should have to beat the best field’
It’s not the lack of fans that makes me think it shouldn’t go ahead, writes Alex Perry, as the PGA Tour’s return at Colonial proved that we can get by just fine without the Mashed Potato Brigade.
It’s the field that concerns me.
Players from outside the US will, under the current restrictions, be required to undertake a two-week quarantine period once landing in the country.
Lee Westwood, the World No 33, has already said he won’t be able to go due to hosting commitments when the European Tour gets back underway at the British Masters in July, while Robert MacIntyre said in his European Tour blog he has “a decision to make” because he’s really excited about the upcoming UK swing.
Let’s take MacIntyre as a mini case study.
Current guidelines require players to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival into both the US and UK.
So if he wants to start practising on the Tuesday of PGA Championship week, he would need to arrive in San Francisco on July 21, self-isolate until August 3, play in the PGA Championship, then, assuming he plays all four days, return to the UK and self-isolate until August 24.
That’s an entire month to play one tournament – a month in which he could play five of the six straight European Tour events held in England and Wales.
And it’s not just MacIntyre affected by this. There are dozens of players in his position. Major winners should have to beat the best possible field and, while it might not be engraved on the Wanamaker Trophy, the PGA Championship winner’s name will forever have an unofficial asterisk.
‘The PGA Championship marks golf’s true return’
“Football,” said the great Italian manager Arrigo Sacchi, “is the most important of the unimportant things in life.”
The sentiment applies to sport in general, writes Dan Murphy, and it is why the PGA Championship should go ahead.
Will this be remembered as one of the greatest majors in history? Almost certainly not, just on the law of averages. But it will mark the moment when golf at the very highest level resumed in a season that will always require an asterisk.
By reading these words, you mark yourself out as somebody who takes their sport too seriously. (I am even more culpable since it takes me much longer to write this than it does you to read it.)
We can all get upset with our sport not being the same as normal right now.
Well, guess what? Nothing is the same as it usually is right now and we either adapt to the situation (I’m trying really hard not to use that ubiquitous and cursed phrase ‘new normal’) or we wait for it to pass. That could be years so put me firmly in the former camp. I can’t wait for the first major since the Open at Royal Portrush in the distant past of last July.
So who do you agree with on whether or not the PGA Championship should go ahead? Let us know in the comments below, or you can tweet us.
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