Breaking News! This tournament, including the next several PGA events, has been officially canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. As of 3/13/20, the Masters is still on, but in question.
The Players tournament started in 1974 with Jack Nicklaus making up a three-shot deficit on the final day to win. He won again in ’76 and ’78, the only player to have won the tournament three times. An unusual accomplishment, for sure. But what may be more unusual is that this year’s Players will take place in the midst of one of this country’s, and indeed the world’s, most serious epidemics in our history: the coronavirus epidemic. The PGA Tour even considered cancelling the tournament out of concern that any mass gathering could exacerbate the risk of spreading this disease in Florida and beyond. The Tour has decided to hold the event, but has taken the following precautions:
- Fans who are sick with the virus are advised to stay home and not attend.
- No refunds will be granted for fans who have already bought tickets and do not attend.
- No liquids will be permitted on admission except for hand sanitizers.
- Fans who become sick during the tournament will have access to medical personnel who have training in identifying the presence of this virus.
- Players have been advised to withdraw if they are sick or have possible symptoms.
- Players’ prior overseas travel has been scrutinized by Tour officials to determine if they have been exposed.
- Players have the option of not signing autographs (without criticism, I assume) so as not to contract the virus or spread it.
The Tour’s decision to play is a risky one. I live in Washington state and see first hand how this sometimes deadly virus can spread. There has been a lack of adequate testing kits provided by federal agencies to monitor and control it spreading which has greatly added to the crisis. I myself have a head cold with some relevant symptoms and am self-quarantining as a precaution. As far as I know, to date, there are no test kits available at my HMO.
So here’s wishing the Tour, The Players tournament , the players, and the fans all the best. Stay healthy, y’all!
Now, back to the golf. There is one glaring withdrawal that had nothing to do with the virus. Tiger Woods has canceled due to back problems. This does not bode well for TW’s playing future, including the near future of defending his Masters title next month. Wishing him well and speedy healing–very speedy healing.
Rory won the The Players last year, along with two other wins, but he’s been faltering some this year, coming up short in his last five final rounds. Bobby Jones used to uncork 300 yard tee shots only when he needed to, which wasn’t that often for him to achieve his remarkable record of winning 13 majors in his era. I think Rors needs to scale back that tee ball some and play more for position for his approach. He hit one 340 last week at API which went through the fairway and got him into trouble. Nicklaus, like Jones, was a long ball hitter who was a master at placing the ball ideally for his approach. And that approach usually got him on the green putting for birdie. Rory only hit four fairways on the final day which sealed his fate. He needs to think more placement of the tee ball than distance, a mantra many of us could also heed.
Who will win this Players? McIlroy is favored. But I think Justin Thomas will take it. This young man has all the skills, the desire, the conditioning, and…a great caddie in Jimmy Johnson. This “Fifth Major” as some call it, should be a great event. All the top guys, except TW, will be there. And the Pete and Alice Dye designed course will be there as well, including the arguably “toughest hole in tournament golf”, the island-green par 3, 17th at TPC Sawgrass, the scene of many train wrecks over the years.
Enjoy it. And I hope all of you reading this stay healthy as well. With spring knocking at the door, there’s a lot of golf to look forward to.