With five players withdrawing from the Travelers Championship, the PGA Tour is increasing its efforts to ensure the safety of all those involved on-site.
‘We all need to remind ourselves that we’re all learning to live with this virus,’ said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
‘It’s pretty clear that this virus isn’t going anywhere.’
Brooks Koepka and his brother, Chase, as well as last week’s RBC Heritage winner Webb Simpson, Cameron Champ and Graeme McDowell have all left the Tour to self-isolate.
Champ was the only one who tested positive.
In all, seven of the 2,757 total in-market tournament tests (for both the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour) in the first three weeks have come back positive.
‘It’s a low number on a percentage basis,’ Monahan said. ‘But every number hurts.’
Thus, the Tour is adjusting its testing protocols as well as other measures designed to strengthen the ‘bubble’ and mitigate the risk of positive tests. Those adjustments include, but are not limited to:
• Those who travel via the Tour-procured charter will be subject to the arrival testing procedures (nasal swab), in addition to the pre-charter test
• Player instructors have been added to the on-site testing protocol
• Starting with next week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, the Tour-sponsored fitness trailer will be on site in an effort to further control the environment where players interact.
‘One of the things that we’ve identified or we want to eliminate is players going to off-site gyms,’ Monahan said. ‘Having our physio trailers here will help that. All of our players entering those physio trailers will be wearing masks.’
• The stipend policy has been updated to specify that a player will not be eligible if he has tested positive for Covid-19 after not following the safety protocols outlined in the Participant Resource Guide.
‘All of us have an extraordinary responsibility to follow those protocols,’ Monahan said. ‘For any individual that does not, there will be serious repercussions.’
Monahan said there have been conversations to ‘tighten things up’ but said all involved have taken the responsibility seriously.
‘I don’t question that all,’ he said.
‘I think when you get into the environment of the tournament with no spectators here, with very few people here, with people that are around you having tested negative, I think over the first couple weeks, we’ve seen some instances where, let’s say we’ve gotten a little bit lax or away from protocol.
‘Full disclosure: I’ve done it myself, and I think that’s the kind of tightening that we need to do in order to make sure we continue to be in a good position to move forward.’
The Tour will continue to develop its protocols to deal with new issues and developments.
‘We’ve learned a lot. We are continuing to refine. It’s all about trying to live in this world and be able to sustain your return in a world of Covid-19. I sincerely feel like we are on the right path in that regard,’ concluded Monahan.