Phil Mickelson says he is considering pulling out of the Houston Open due to health and safety reasons as fans will be present at the Masters tune-up event.
The officially-named Vivint Houston Open will take place on November 5-8 at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston, Texas, with limited fans in attendance, capped at 2,000 per day.
It takes place a week before the rescheduled Masters at Augusta National, which was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking ahead of this week’s Zozo Championship, Mickelson said the presence of fans has made him rethink playing at the Houston Open in order to minimize risks in relation to the coronavirus to ensure his participation at the Masters.
“For me personally, I don’t like the risk that having that happen the week before the Masters. I just feel like the week before the Masters, like that’s a big tournament we have and I just don’t want to have any risk heading in there,” Mickelson said. “It has made me question whether or not I’ll play [in Houston].”
Mickelson made a point of saying that he believes the PGA Tour has done an “incredible” job of managing its coronavirus protocols.
But he added: “Because I haven’t seen it before, because it’s the first one out on the Tour with some people, I’m unsure and I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I don’t go out to dinner, I don’t go out and socialize because I want to make sure that I have an opportunity to compete in the Masters.”
Mickelson said he would consider instead playing at the PGA Tour Champions’ Charles Schwab Championship at Phoenix Country Club, Arizona.
“If Phoenix does not have people, I’ll probably go there, to be honest,” Mickelson said. “If they’re both going to have galleries, I’ll probably go to the Houston Open.”
Elsewhere, the United States Golf Association has announced that fans will not be permitted at the US Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston on December 10-13.
“Following extensive consultation with health officials, we have decided that hosting the US Women’s Open without spectators will provide the best opportunity to conduct the championship safely for all involved,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships. “While we are disappointed that we won’t be able to welcome fans and their unmatched energy at Champions Golf Club, we know this is the right decision for the community and players.”