PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida – We all remember where we were a year ago when COVID-19 turned the world off its axis.
In sport, it started with the NBA interrupting their season, after Rudy Gobert of Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus. It wasn’t long before the PGA Tour followed, the Players Championship canceled after one round and then the season interrupted – like all other sports.
At that point, did anyone believe that there would be sports for the rest of 2020 What followed the pandemic shutdown in golf was a well-thought-out and brazen leadership demonstration by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and the game’s other governing bodies, allowing him to bring the rest of the sports out of the dark of COVID-19 and at least a flickering light of normalcy.
Three months after shutting down, the PGA Tour restarted its season in June with the Charles Schwab Championship at Colonial, while much of the country was still closed. And with a whole range of skeptical eyes.
There were nervous moments at the beginning, and those nerves sometimes became frayed when some players came up with some positive cases.
But the PGA Tour went on, sticking to their logs loyal, and here we are this week, a year later: The 2021 Players Championship begins with the opening round on Thursday at TPC Sawgrass with around 10,000 viewers a day.
« Three hundred and sixty-two days ago, on March 13th, seems in many ways A lifetime ago, « said Monahan on Tuesday. “I sat with you [reporters] discussing the cancellation of our flagship event here at TPC Sawgrass. As terrible as it was for the tour at the time, our players, our fans and our community, it goes without saying that what we experienced that day, compared to what our world will be in the coming days, Weeks and years would experience, months would fade.
“This Friday morning I had several thoughts of parting. One of them was that even though we had no idea what was coming, we were going to turn what we were experiencing into a positive, which I think makes our game better than any other. »
Since the PGA Tour resumed its season at Colonial, golf has felt like sports therapy that delivers at least a touch of normalcy.
« After we made those calls, there were major concerns whether we could play golf in 2020 and beyond, « said Jordan Spieth.
» When the NBA put their season on hold, it got pretty real – at least for me, « said Keegan Bradley. “Then I woke up on Friday morning and prepared for the game. The tournament was canceled and it was pretty intense. I think the tour did an amazing job and got us out again. «
Since Colonial, the PGA Tour has run more than 8,600 COVID-19 tests and only 26 players tested positive – a remarkably low percentage and a will for everyone who follows the protocols.
» If Looking back, I give Jay Monahan a lot of props for the job he’s done, « Spieth said. » It’s easier to see how good a leader is when you are in difficult times than when you are in good times «
Charley Hoffman, who was president of the PGA Tour’s Players Advisory Council (PAC) at the time, said he remembered speaking with Monahan on Thursday afternoon of the Players Championship last year, » um figure out what we were going to do « .
» I thought we might finish this tournament, « said Hoffman. » At the end of the day, [Monahan] made the absolutely right decision by canceling the tournament. He has a few very strategic steps below Taken to overcome and overcome the pandemic and I think golf is in a better position now than it was a year ago. «
Rory McIlroy, recently elected the new PAC President, said: » It felt like an incredibly slow 12 months, but at the same time it went very quickly. I can’t believe we’re here again. «
When the first group of players tee off early Thursday morning to start the tournament, Monahan will be on the first tee and it will be an emotional moment.
» I’ll be proud, « said Monahan. » The most important thing is to be back here a year later, proud of our players, proud of all the caddies, everyone who worked so hard to get us back to this point in time. «
It will be a moment and be a place where Monahan will never forget where he was for the rest of his life.
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