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.
SON OF SERGIO
Sergio Garcia now is part of his own foursome, and the timing couldn’t have worked out any better.
Garcia took to Instagram to announce his wife, Angela, gave birth to their second child on April 10, which would have been the second round of the Masters that was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A son, Enzo Akins Garcia, was born at 6:25 p.m. Friday, and the Spaniard said mother and baby were doing well.
His daughter, Azalea, was born in 2018, a year after Garcia won the Masters in a playoff over Justin Rose.
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
Bernhard Langer is the only player to the win the Masters and then win the following week, beating Bobby Wadkins in a playoff at Hilton Head.
And then there’s Greg Norman.
He was tied for the lead in the 1986 Masters with Jack Nicklaus until Norman sent his 4-iron into the gallery right of the 18th green, made bogey and finished one shot behind. Norman headed for Hilton Head and was tied for the lead until Fuzzy Zoeller birdied the last hole for a one-shot victory, giving Norman back-to-back runner-up finishes. One hurt more.
Norman won at Hilton Head two years later by making up a four-shot deficit with a 66 for a one-shot victory.
RAFA STAYS BEHIND
The day golf was cancelled, Bernd Wiesberger of Austria caught the last flight out to get home.
Rafa Cabrera Bello did not.
The Spaniard told golfchannel.com he decided not to fly to his home in Dubai in case it was difficult to return. He’s been staying in a rented house in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida — not far from Commissioner Jay Monahan — ever since. The house is rented through the end of May.
“We were already here and as Europeans we were a little more aware of how the virus was affecting the population in places like Italy and in Spain,” Cabrera Bello told the website. “We thought about it and felt that if there were a golf course in the U.S. that had a higher chance to stay open, as long as the situation isn’t horrible, we figured PGA Tour HQ had the highest chance to stay open.”
Cabrera says he spends two or three days a week on the range at the TPC Sawgrass. He is in Florida with his wife and 8-month-old daughter.
“We are very comfortable here,” he said. “We found a nice place. So far, life here is as good as it can be in this uncomfortable situation for everyone. But it’s not home.”
The USGA is investing $5 million in a relief fund for 59 members in its Allied Golf Association, which represent state and regional golf associations.
The fund goes for grants to help keep businesses running and people in their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individual associations can apply for up to $100,000, with other financial assistance available based on need. The USGA began taking applications on Monday.
“These golf associations are the backbone of the recreational and competitive golf communities at the local, state and regional level,” said Mike Davis, the CEO of the USGA. “They play a vital role not only in delivering the USGA’s core services, but also in engaging millions of golfers across the country at the local level. This support will help enable the game to make a strong return once it’s safe to do so.”
The USGA relies on the associations to provide resources and programs at the regional level, and they help run more than 600 qualifiers for the USGA’s professional and amateur championships. They also are the only associations authorized to offer a Handicap Index to golfers.
The USGA said many of them were dealing with temporary hardships as golf events have been postponed and some courses have been ordered closed during the typically busy spring season.
The Arnold Palmer Cup has new dates and a new location. The Ryder Cup-styled matches for college players from the U.S. and International teams had been scheduled for July 3-5 at Lahinch in Ireland. Now it’s set for Dec. 21-23 at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida. All 48 qualifiers have the option to compete if they don’t turn pro. … More than winning the career Grand Slam three times over, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have something else in common: They’re colorblind. Woods said in a GolfTV interview last week he was partially colorblind. He said he was no use helping his kids with a jigsaw puzzle. “Once the borders are done, though, I’m useless,” he said. “I can’t disseminate colours as well as they can.”
STAT OF THE WEEK
Doug Sanders was one of three players who won 20 times on the PGA Tour without ever winning a major. The others were Harry Cooper and Macdonald Smith.
“Those runner-up finishes only meant that Doug was a quality player and played at a high level, certainly high enough to win a major, but was just unlucky not to win one. He deserves to be remembered for much more.” — Jack Nicklaus on Doug Sanders, who died Sunday. Sanders was runner-up four times in the majors, twice to Nicklaus.
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Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press