Amid growing concerns over the global spread of the coronavirus, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced Thursday that the remainder of The Players Championship will be played without spectators.
"At this point in time PGA Tour events, across all tours, will currently proceed as scheduled but will do so without fans," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
"This will begin at The Players Championship tomorrow and through the Valero Texas Open."
Monahan said he's been in contact with White House and the Florida Governor's office, which both supported the precautionary measures the Tour had taken leading into playing Thursday's first round at TPC Sawgrass.
The announcements to put the NBA season on hold and contest the NCAA basketball championships in empty arenas due to COVID-19 has brought much of the sports world to a screeching halt.
The Players Championship began Thursday morning as scheduled, with spectators lining the fairways at TPC Sawgrass. Fans were told there would be no autograph sessions and Tour players were informed via text message that Round 1 of The Players would be played.
“I'm not overly concerned for myself,” PGA Tour veteran Paul Casey told SI.com. “I'm not trying to trivialize something that's obviously very serious now. I have kids, I have parents and they're in their seventies, and they are currently abroad and not home in London right now. They're slightly worried and I'm worried for them. I have concerns. It's maybe just not for myself.”
The Players Championship, which drew more than 200,000 fans a year ago, will be contested over four days at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. As of Thursday, one person in St. Johns County, where the golf course is located, had tested positive for COVID-19.
As The Players Championship is played without fans, questions have been asked about the rest of the Tour schedule, including the Masters in April.
According to a Golf Digest report, officials at Augusta National Golf Club are having discussions and looking over contingency plans for the Masters. These could reportedly include limiting patrons on the golf course or playing the tournament with no patrons.
“I can’t imagine it,” Casey said. “It’s just really strange to think about that. I know what it's like playing golf at home by myself in a practice round. And it's strange. It's not the same. You don't have the same juices flowing.”
Augusta National is expected to have an update on the status of the Masters over the next few days.
As of Thursday morning, more than 1,200 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the United States, leading to 37 deaths.