PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The next World Golf Championship starts in two weeks in Austin, Texas, and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan “fully expects” the Dell Match Play to go on as scheduled.
“We’re all in and making certain that we’re able to operate that event,” he said Tuesday.
The popular South by Southwest festival, which last year attracted nearly 300,000 people, already was canceled over concerns about the new coronavirus outbreak.
Austin city officials issued a statement Monday that events with at least 2,500 people are prohibited “unless organizers can assure Austin Public Health that mitigation plans for infectious diseases are in place.”
The tour has submitted plans for the Match Play, which starts March 25 at Austin Country Club for the top 64 players available from the world ranking.
“This thing is so dynamic that you just have to go hour-to-hour, day-to-day,” Monahan said. “But right now, we have every assurance that we’ll be in Austin.”
Monahan says the tour began with a task force on COVID-19, and now that has become what he described as a “business unit” led by its medical director and chief administrative officer. He said they have a “large team” studying the virus and implications to tour business.
Tiger Woods hasn’t played in four weeks, and the Match Play is among possibilities as his only start before he defends his title at the Masters. He also could play, if his back allows, the Valspar Championship next week in the Tampa Bay area.
As for the Match Play, Monahan left open the possibility that it could be played without fans, or with limited attendance.
“There are different ways of operating an event based on the circumstances in terms of fan involvement and how we operate the event,” he said. “But we’re still confident that we’d be able to operate the event.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.
CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES
Tyrrell Hatton was so ecstatic to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational that he wasn’t sure he would recover from celebrating until Wednesday. It was probably different from the celebrations of Webb Simpson.
When he won The Players Championship two years ago, Simpson recalls a long — and enjoyable — evening of several interviews and stopping by to thank the volunteers. He got a late flight and stopped with his wife at a Wendy’s on his way to the airport. That wasn’t the first time.
He did the same thing after winning the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in 2012.
“I go double cheeseburger, usually,” he said. “But my recovery was probably better on Monday morning than Tyrrell Hatton’s was. But good for him. I’m happy for him. I’ve known him to be a really good player for a long time.”
WEEKEND WITH PERRY
One of the perks of being a PGA of America section champion is a spot in some area PGA Tour events. For Rod Perry, that meant teeing it up at Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
And the best perk of all? Playing all four days.
The divide between club professionals and PGA Tour players is getting wider by the year, so it was extra satisfying for Perry to finish eagle-birdie-bogey on Friday to make the cut on the number. He shot 79 the next day — still two shots better than Brooks Koepka, at least for one round — and closed with a 76 to tie for 69th.
Asked if he played within himself, the 46-year-old Perry laughed and said, “No. I played out of my gourd.”
Perry works works at Crane Lakes Golf and Country Club in Port Orange, a small club with a good staff that allows him a little more time to play. Even so, he said he gives about 400 lessons a year, half as many as he used to give when he worked at a public course up the road in Daytona Beach.
It was the fourth time he has made the cut in 33 starts on the PGA Tour dating to Bay Hill. He made his first cut in 2008 at the Ginn sur Mer Classic, which is no longer on the tour schedule. He tied for 69th and made $9,154. He tied for 62nd this year and made $20,274.
“Players have gotten better and better and better since then, and I’m getting older and older and older,” Perry said. “At my level, I have to play very well to make the weekend.”
STEADY MEANS SUCCESS
The active leader for consecutive cuts made was still in college this time a year ago. Collin Morikawa graduated from Cal, turned pro after the NCAAs and has cashed a check in all 20 tournaments he has played on the PGA Tour. That includes a victory in the opposite-field Barracuda Championship.
His official cut streak is 21 because it dates to the Arnold Palmer Invitational from two years ago when he played on an exemption. Morikawa took the lead in this category when Tommy Fleetwood missed the cut at Bay Hill, ending his streak of 33 straight cuts on the PGA Tour dating to Quail Hollow in 2018.
With a tie for ninth at Bay Hill, Morikawa moved up to No. 44 in the world. And because he has only 22 tournaments counting as his divisor, he is close to locking up a spot in the Masters next month.
Scottie Scheffler is in a similar spot. He was the Korn Ferry Tour player of the year and started his rookie season on the PGA Tour at No. 87. Scheffler, who graduated from Texas in four years, tied for 15th at Bay Hill for his seventh finish in the top 20 this season. He is up to No. 47 in the world, has the minimum 40 events as a ranking divisor and faces two big weeks at The Players Championship at Match Play to get into the top 50.
It’s rare for a PGA Tour rookie to get into the Masters without winning.
The PGA Tour Champions is bringing a new tournament to one of Jacksonville’s best golf clubs in conjunction with one of its best local players. Jim Furyk will be the official host of the Constellation Furyk & Friends, a full field on Oct. 8-10 at Timuquana Country Club, the Donald Ross design which last year hosted the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship. The purse will be $2 million. … Not only has the defending champion never won at TPC Sawgrass, the last defending champion to finish in the top 10 was Adam Scott in 2005. He tied for eighth. Last year’s champion, Rory McIlroy, has finished in the top five in his past seven starts worldwide. … McIlroy starts his 100th week at No. 1 in the world. Only Tiger Woods (683) and Greg Norman (331) have spent more time at No. 1. … An international player has won Bay Hill the last five years.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Harris English tied for ninth at Bay Hill for his fifth top 10 of the season, one more than his last three seasons combined.
“I think that it’s flattering when any entity is looking at what’s happening on the PGA Tour and they see growth, they see momentum, they see a broadening reach to a larger fan base domestically and internationally, and it’s no surprise that someone is coming to try and take a piece of that. That’s the nature of business.” — PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan on the proposed Premier Golf League.
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