Professional golfers are expressing concern about international travel because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, and it is affecting tournaments both in the US and across the globe. The disease, which has infected 17 million people and killed 669,000 worldwide, has drastically altered every professional golf tour.
The PGA Tour rescheduled 12 tournaments, and canceled 10 others, going on a 12-week break before resuming the season June 11. Its counterpart, the European Tour, postponed nine tournaments and canceled eight others. Of the nine tournaments that were postponed, only three have been rescheduled.
The LPGA has been hit the hardest. They canceled 14 events and postponed 11. All of the postponed events have been rescheduled for later in the season.
LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan made the decision to restart the schedule this week at the Drive On Championship at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. The women’s tour comes six weeks later than the PGA Tour restart, and Whan defended his decision to delay resuming the season.
“We’re a slightly different Tour than the PGA Tour,” Whan said. “I don’t think anybody doubts that. We are truly a global entity where we have players from all over the world. And not a small percentage. We have a large number of players and caddies who are not based in America.”
Players Express COVID-19 Concerns Regarding Travel
Golf fans might not be seeing their favorite players on television for certain tournaments. Lee Westwood said last week at the British Masters that he won’t be playing in next week’s PGA Championship. Westwood told reporters that he doesn’t feel safe flying from England to San Francisco.
“I still don’t feel comfortable, and I don’t feel like it is right to jump on a plane for 12 hours,” Westwood said. “I have felt out of my comfort zone this week so I would feel uncomfortable playing tournaments in America at the moment. I’m also concerned that America doesn’t take it as seriously as the rest of the world.”
The LPGA event this week, the Drive On Championship, will be without two of its star players. World No. 1 Ko Jin-Young Ko and No. 3 Sung-Yyun Park, both of South Korea, said they will not be playing in the first four LPGA competitions, citing travel concerns with the COVID-19 crisis.
“Due to concerns about the Covid-19 situation in the UK, Ko is not planning to play at the Women’s Open,” Han Hyomin, Ko’s manager, told the Golf Channel. “She is hopeful about returning to the US to play in the LPGA, but does not have any specific plans or dates in mind yet. We are waiting to see if the COVID-19 situation in the US improves. She is remaining in Korea at the moment to avoid exposure to the virus.”
McIlroy Staying in States
Before the start of the World Golf Championship-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, current, world No. 2 men’s golfer Rory McIlroy told reporters that he will probably not travel to Europe this year. The Irishman said a full schedule in the US, as well as concerns about traveling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, will probably keep him from playing on the European Tour this year.
“I honestly don’t know if I see myself going back to Europe this year,” McIlroy said. “I don’t know if I want to travel, I don’t know if I want to be exposed to more things and more people. So I don’t know, I have no idea and I’m sort of taking it week by week. I’ve got my schedule planned up until the US Open, which is obviously a couple weeks after the Tour Championship, and then I honestly have no idea what I’m going to do after that.”