The PGA Tour has canceled the remaining three rounds of the PLAYERS Championship, and will not resume operations until April 5 at the earliest, according to a Tour announcement on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday, the PGA Tour announced that the final three rounds of the PLAYERS would be played without spectators. Golf is a unique sport in the sense that players can remain isolated from each other on the course. A fact that PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monohan was originally comfortable with.
"We feel like we have, because of the nature of that and the fact that you've got 144 players here and over the course of a round our players generally do socially distance themselves, we felt like by taking this step to address the problem with our fans, we're in a position where we can continue to operate the events as of right now," he said. "And you look at there are other circumstances that led to the decisions that those leagues made that are unique to those leagues that we're not currently faced with. And that's something that we thought about and talked about, but ultimately when you break it down and you think about what's going to happen here over the course of the next three days and then going forward, we're comfortable having our players continue to play at this time.
But by Thursday evening, the PGA Tour opted to follow nearly every other major pro and college sports organization amid the spread of coronavirus.
"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 star Rory McIlroy said after the decision was made to ban fans, but before the decision to cancel the remaining rounds, that he was not surprised to see golf being kept away from fans.
"I think when you look at Europe and they, you see what they have done there, especially Italy, obviously the northern part was on lockdown earlier this week and then obviously now it's all of Italy. Every school and university has been shut in Ireland. So not surprising, given what's happened over there. I think it's just to try to curtail this and try to stop it spreading. I thought it was the right move," he said.
Four other upcoming tournaments were also impacted by the decision. The next tournament on the PGA Tour's calendar is its signature event The Masters, which starts April 9.