PGA Tour shifts course, will now shut down until April

The PGA Tour has reversed course on its response to the coronavirus outbreak, and shut down tournaments through April 5 due to the global pandemic.

The Tour originally planned to keep playing but without spectators, starting with this weekend’s Players Championship in Florida, for the next several weeks. That decision had been guided in part by the fact golf plays outdoors in larger spaces, allowing for less direct contact between people, and support from Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

But after playing the first round of its $15m signature event, the PGA Tour late on March 12 shifted course and canceled all of its events into next month.

The decision also carries to other PGA Tour competitions, which include the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour Champions. It also leaves The Masters, set for April 9-12, as the next event on the PGA Tour calendar. 

“We have pledged from the start to be responsible, thoughtful, and transparent with our decision process,” the PGA Tour said in a statement. “We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate. But at this point – and as the situation continues to rapidly change – the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause.”

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is expected to speak further about the decision the morning of March 13. 

The decision arrived hours after the world’s current top-ranked male player, Rory McIlroy, said “we need to shut it down,” and called for all players and caddies to be tested for coronavirus. 

“Because everyone knows you can have it and not have symptoms and pass it on to someone who’s more susceptible to getting very ill from it,” McIlroy said.