HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – First it was four. Then five. Now the number of PGA Tour events that will be played without fans is seven and likely growing following news on Monday that the PGA Championship in August will not allow spectators.
The PGA Tour’s original plan to return to competition called for the first four events, including this week’s RBC Heritage, to be played without fans. Added to that list is a replacement event scheduled for July 9-12 at Muirfield Village, the PGA Championship (Aug. 6-9) and 3M Open (July 23-26).
Although Tour players agree with the move to play without fans, they also recognize how odd it is to not have galleries at crucial moments during a tournament or when the game’s stars are playing.
“I was playing behind the Nos. 1, 2, and 3 in the world last week, and Rory [McIlroy] or Brooks [Koepka] or Jon [Rahm] would make a putt, and there would be nothing. All of that is something to get used to. Yeah, a major championship, especially when Tiger comes out? I don't think Tiger has ever had a hundred people watch him. He's always had thousands. So that's going to be strange,” Webb Simpson said Tuesday at the RBC Heritage. “I respect the decision, they want us to play very badly, and if it means no fans, then they'll do it.”
The one exception to that notion is the Ryder Cup which is scheduled for Sept. 25-27 in Wisconsin.
“I wouldn't want to play a Ryder Cup with no fans. I feel like fans make the Ryder Cup,” said Simpson, who expects a decision about this year’s matches within the next two weeks. “Now, I would go play, obviously. I would be happy to be on the team. Unlike any other event, fans make the Ryder Cup.”