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Golf: PGA tour resumes in Texas behind closed doors, but crowded

“It’s tee time!”: After three months of suspension due to the coronavirus, the North American golf circuit (PGA) starts again behind closed doors on Thursday in Texas, in the presence of the world top five which gives the Charles Schwab Challenge an air of Major , despite the absence of Tiger Woods.

Quoting simply the North Irishman Rory McIlroy, world number one, and his Spanish pursuers Jon Rahm (2nd), and American Brooks Koepka (3rd), Justin Thomas (4th), Dustin Johnson (5th), never the Colonial at Fort Worth will have known plateau if raised.

Better: it will bring together 70 of the 100 world firsts and no less than 101 golfers who have already won a title on the PGA circuit, including in particular the Americans Patrick Reed (7th) and Webb Simpson (9th), Phil Mickelson, five-time grand slam winner , or Gary Woodland, winner of the last US Open.

Suffice to say that retaining his title will be very complicated for Kevin Na, in a context that is more unusual since this return to golf will take place in absolute calm and at a regulatory distance from each other, moreover under strong heat (of 35 to 37 degrees).

At the initiative of the PGA, a minute of silence will be observed before each round, in support of the demonstrations against racism which have taken place for two weeks in the United States, following the death of George Floyd during his arrest in Minneapolis on May 25.

In addition, the tee time was set at 8:46, in reference to the 8 minutes 46 seconds of ordeal experienced by this black man suffocated during all this time by the knee of a policeman leaning on his neck.

In terms of the health protocol implemented by the PGA, the players are tested on the Monday or Tuesday preceding the event, in the same way as the caddies, and various staff members (tournament, PGA, club employees …).

– No handshakes –

“The nasal swab test was nothing pleasant. But I did it and I got my pass,” said Justin Thomas, who expects to be rusty on Thursday, even though he made sure to stay in shape for the past three months by training in his garden.

They will be allowed to practice until the results are known, but any positive test will mean the golfer’s withdrawal. Ditto during the competition, where everyone must submit to questionnaires and daily temperature measurements, while handshakes and braces at the end of the course will be prohibited.

Conditions to which Tiger Woods, the only major absent at Fort Worth, will not be subject. The American legend with 15 Grand Slam titles has not played since February 16 and a last place at the Genesis Invitational, except for an exhibition for a good cause on May 24 in Florida.

In search of his 83rd PGA title, which would be a new record, the “Tiger” could come out of his den next week to participate in the RBC Heritage (June 18-21), on the island of Hilton Head in South Carolina .

Then will follow the PGA calendar, the Travelers Championship in Connecticut (June 25-28), the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit (Michigan) from July 2 to 5 and an as yet undefined event, in Columbus (Ohio) from 9 to 12 July, to compensate for the cancellation of the John Deere Classic (Illinois).

Finally, it is in Dublin (Ohio) from July 16 to 19 that the public will be able to make its return, in limited number, around the greens, the governor of this State, Mike DeWine, having given the green light to the organizers of the Memorial, after lifting restrictions on large gatherings.