Rory McIlroy to play in first 3 PGA Tour events, comfortable with restart amid coronavirus

Yahoo Sports

The PGA Tour is preparing to resume its schedule next month amid the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 11

Rory McIlroy, the top-ranked golfer in the world, committed to participating in that tournament and the next two — the RBC Heritage in South Carolina and the Travelers Championship in Connecticut — on Wednesday, and said he was more than comfortable doing so with the protocols that the Tour has in place.

“And then see where we go from there,” McIlroy said, via ESPN. “That's my plan, play the first three.

“I think it will be nice to get back out and play. Obviously we're going to have to take as many precautions as possible to be able to put Tour events on again, but I think the PGA Tour has got a very robust plan in place, and if they can execute it the right way, I see no reason why we can't start June 11.”

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament, Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament, Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The PGA Tour’s restart plan

The Tour released its revised schedule last month, with the Tour Championship taking place in September before three of the four rescheduled major championships and the Ryder Cup. The first four events — the three McIlroy committed to and the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Michigan — will be held without fans in attendance.

The Tour expanded on its plan this week in a lengthy memo to players. Among other things, it will offer a charter flight for players and caddies between events, health screenings and coronavirus testing — though just one test per player each week — a central hotel and more. Caddies will be expected to maintain a 6-foot distance from players on the course, too. 

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

Should a player test positive for the coronavirus, he will be required to withdraw from the event and quarantine. International players and caddies who are currently residing outside of the country will need to quarantine for 14 days in the United States before playing, though the Tour knows it may be difficult to get everyone back in time for the first event with different travel bans and restrictions around the world. 

“It’s really a layered approach that we’ve taken, and the heart of it is social distancing,” PGA Tour vice president and chief of operations Tyler Dennis said, via the Tour. “We’re excited about how the PGA Tour can play a role here in the world’s return, if you will, to enjoying things we love and doing so in a responsible manner.”

There were more than 1.4 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Thursday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 85,000 deaths attributed to it. The Tour is one of the first professional sports leagues in the country to establish a firm plan to return. 

Though the pandemic is still raging, McIlroy isn’t concerned about golf starting back up again. The 31-year-old thinks the plan the Tour has laid out can be successful in creating a safe environment for him and everyone else to compete.

“I think if you take the necessary precautions, wearing a face covering, washing your hands frequently, sanitizing your hands frequently, practicing social distancing ... I really do think it's possible,” McIlroy said, via ESPN. “I see no reason why you wouldn't be comfortable with the logistics of getting to an event and from.

“The Tour is going to put on a charter [flight] and there's going to be a lot of testing and make sure that no one is getting on these planes or into these hotels or onto the golf courses that have tested positive for COVID-19 or showing signs that they may be positive.

“They are going to have to self-isolate and take all those precautions. Again, I believe the PGA Tour has a very robust policy in place, and if they can execute it, I feel comfortable getting back out there and playing and traveling.”

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