A Steady Diet Of Limited Fans On PGA TOUR Through End Of May

By DOUG FERGUSON, Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Georgia — The roars returned to Masters. At least two of them.

There were enough spectators, believed to be roughly 8,000 a day, to at least bring some sound back to the gorgeous scenery of Augusta National in April. And they stood six-deep over the final 100 yards of the 18th green — masks on — as Hideki Matsuyama walked up the hill to a one-shot victory.

Missing was that head-turning volume, a brief burst of cheers that made spectators look around and try to figure out where it came from and what they were missing.

One of those roars was for Tommy Fleetwood making a hole-in-one on the 16th hole in the opening round. The loudest of the week was for Corey Conners making his ace on the sixth hole [in the third round].

But it was progress, and that goes for the rest of golf.

Spectators in limited numbers returned this year at the Phoenix Open — compared with other years in Phoenix, that would be very limited — and have been a part of PGA TOUR events ever since the tour left California.

The next test is not so much who has spectators, but how many? And the most questions surround the Memorial in Dublin, Ohio, the first week in June.

The tournament posted on its website efforts to plan for “as safe of an experience as possible” and that it will decide while consulting with local and state governments and the tour.

The tournament said it has temporarily suspended badge sales to best manage the ticketing process. Fans are asked to sign up on a wait list and they will be contacted “should additional badges become available.”

The Memorial last year had a detailed plan for spectators that had been approved by the state until it was decided 10 days before the start of the tournament there would be none. A small grandstand by the 18th hole and some concession structures were still up during the tournament.

At least some spectators would be expected everywhere else on the upcoming tour schedule. The RBC Heritage this week has allowed 20% capacity at Hilton Head.

That will be followed by the Zurich Classic in Avondale, Louisiana (up to 10,000 a day), the Valspar Championship in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area (20-30% capacity), the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina (maximum 30% capacity), the AT&T Bryon Nelson in Dallas (10,000 a day), the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina (10,000 a day) and the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas (10,000 a day).

“It’s funny to think that 10,000 is going to feel like a lot of people, but after the year we just went through, it’s going to feel like it,” Jon Drago, the AT&T Byron Nelson tournament director, told The Dallas Morning News.

Colonial last year was the first event back from the pandemic. Hilton Head moved to June and the PGA Championship went from May to August. The rest of them between now and Memorial were cancelled.