Commissioner explains PLAYERS decision, discusses future
TOUR events – across all Tours – cancelled through Valero Texas Open
March 13, 2020
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- March 13, 2020
Commissioner Jay Monahan discusses cancellation of THE PLAYERS
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Given that THE PLAYERS Championship is “our Super Bowl,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan, the decision to cancel the event Thursday night was not made lightly. But Monahan said on Friday that he has no doubt it was the proper call, as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic.
The PGA TOUR not only canceled THE PLAYERS Championship (which had played one round), it also canceled the next three events on the schedule: the Valspar Championship, the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, and the Valero Texas Open. Events on other tours also were canceled.
“Our goal now is to focus on a plan for the near and long-term and maintain the strength we’ve built through our organization over the past 51 years, and I’m confident we’ll do exactly that,” Monahan said in a Friday morning news conference.
Here are a few more topics the Commissioner touched on:
WHAT PROMPTED THE DECISION? There were several factors, including two big ones.
Some players after finishing their rounds Thursday had questions, particularly the international players in regard to the travel bans announced by President Trump. “A lot of uncertainly, trying to figure out what they do with their family, how they get home, how they get their families here,” Monahan said, adding, “There were some players that were concerned. That’s something that we took into consideration and took very seriously.”
Various feedback from other players, including defending champion Rory McIlroy, also voiced concern that maybe it was not the right time to play. “The fact that everybody is questioning, or asking questions like that, is something you have to take very seriously, and we did,” Monahan said.
The news that Walt Disney World and Universal theme parks in Orlando, Florida – approximately 150 miles from TPC Sawgrass – are temporarily shutting down became the final straw.
“That was the final thing that we had heard that said, you know what, even though we feel like we have a safe environment and we’ve done all the right things, we can’t proceed, and it’s not right to proceed,” Monahan said. “And when you’re doing the right thing as the litmus test, to me … those two things together were really the things that drove the decision.”
Earlier in the day, the TOUR had announced it would not allow fans into TPC Sawgrass for the final three rounds but “as the situation continued to escalate and there seemed to be more unknowns, it ultimately became a matter of when, and not if, we would need to call it a day,” Monahan said.
HOW DID THE TITLE SPONSORS RESPOND? “They’re fully supportive of the decision we made,” Monahan said. “They had proper input into the decision we made. And now it’s on to, how do we address and help the communities that we vacated? Hold us accountable to that because we’re going to do some great things.”
One thing already being worked on at TPC Sawgrass was utilizing the food supplies for the tournament in a proper manner. The tournament is working with former FedExCup champ and local resident Billy Horschel, who is an ambassador for Feeding Northeast Florida, to put those supplies to use locally. “That’s something we’re going to do immediately,” Monahan said.
WHEN WILL PLAY RESUME? That’s one of the big questions, of course. With the PGA TOUR suspending play through the Valero Texas Open, that left the Masters as the next tournament on the schedule. On Friday, Augusta National announced it would postpone the Masters until “some later date,” according to club chairman Fred Ridley.
That leaves the next event on the schedule as the RBC Heritage starting the week of April 12, followed by the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and its unique team-event format. Given how fluid things are unfolding, the TOUR will continue to monitor the situation, work with necessary health and local officials, and adjust if necessary.
“We need to continue to understand what’s happening on the ground in the markets where we would be returning to play, continue to work with our partners in those markets, continue to understand what’s happening with the CDC and the World Health Organization, and then ultimately that will guide our decision. We’re going to make sure that we protect the safety and well-being of all of our constituents as we make that decision.”
HAVE ANY PLAYERS, CADDIES OR STAFFERS TESTED OR CONTRACTED THE VIRUS? No, said Monahan, who noted that the PGA TOUR has a business unit specifically focusing on the issue. “Right now there aren’t enough tests out there,” Monahan said. “And so the responsible things to do is to make certain that the tests are being used appropriately, and if we wanted to test everybody out here … we might be taking away from that. …
“If anybody in our ecosystem – our players, our employees – anybody is feeling like they’re in any way compromised, we’d certainly recommend and help them do anything we can to help them get tested. But right now, that’s certainly not the case.”
WILL THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP BE RESCHEDULED? Said Monahan: “It’s not a possibility. As you look into the rest of the season, tournaments in every market are well on their way towards playing their events, to fundraising. You’ve got charities just like we have here that are counting on those events. … We’re going to continue to go forward with the schedule that we’ve outlined and hopefully we can get back and play as soon as possible.”
WILL THE FIELD RECEIVE PRIZE MONEY? Yes. PGA TOUR regulations stipulate that “if you complete one round of a championship, we pay 50% of the purse,” said Monahan. Although four players had yet to complete the first round, the TOUR will pay the 50%, equally distributed among the players. That means a half purse of $7.5 million for 144 players, or $52,083.33 per player. The earnings will be considered unofficial. Per rule, any player withdrawing prior to teeing off is not considered part of the field and will not be paid.
WILL STATISTICS FROM THURSDAY’S FIRST ROUND BE COUNTED? No. All results will be wiped out of the record books and from players’ statistics. For instance, Hideki Matsuyama will not be credited with a course-record tying 63.
THE NEXT MONTH. Even though there are no TOUR events to attend or follow, Monahan hopes that fans who play the sport will continue to be active.
“Golf is the greatest game on the planet,” Monahan said. “There are a lot of people that are in this business, in this industry that make their living through this game, and I hope that everybody as they go through this uncertain time gets an opportunity to get out, play golf, be outside, support their PGA of America profession, support this game, be inspired by this game.
“Of course, everybody needs to think about what’s happening in their local marketplace, but I want to make sure that not only are we inspiring the communities where we play, but hopefully people are inspired to continue to use this game to get through a challenging time, and that’s what we’re going to encourage people to do.”
For more on the coronavirus disease, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s information page.