He said players would need to test themselves at home for the new coronavirus, and then be tested at the tournament when they arrived and in the middle of the week. He said tests would include rules officials, walking scorers and even clubhouse employees who are preparing and serving food to the players.
He cited risks such as traveling with strangers without knowing where they've been. Todd said he expects there to be a designated hotel for the players. His biggest concern is a positive test at a tournament, meaning he would have to be quarantined for 14 days away from home.
“That's my No. 1 reservation,” Todd said Tuesday. “But I'm willing to take the risk to get the tour started.” The Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial is still five weeks away, and the tour is still working out details on testing, essential personnel on the course and even if players can bring their families.
Another issue to be determined is the use of the locker room. “You could go away from that to provide the safest environment ... do everything they can to make it safe," Todd said. Most players use the locker room only to change shoes and stash equipment they might not be using.
“You're talking to a guy who's played 20 Monday qualifiers,” Todd said. “I'm all too used to changing shoes in the parking lot. It's not that big of a deal.” On the golf course, he doesn't expect players to be wearing masks. And while it's easy to maintain social distancing, there will be times when it gets tight on small tee boxes with three players and three caddies. As for rakes in the bunker and handling the pin, Todd says if everyone is tested, that shouldn't be a problem.
And if there is a positive test? “The tour has said if someone gets the virus, it's a 14-day quarantine. They haven't said if the tournament will stop," he said. Todd said the biggest hurdle he sees for a restart is if the rate of infection increases. Even so, he believes the tour is on the right track.
“If everyone is testing at home before leaving, we're controlling some of the risks,” he said. “We're putting ourselves in a better situation than going to watch a concert or a sporting event or a grocery store that's crowded.”
VIRTUAL TOUR The European Tour is going virtual until it can resume tournaments put on hold because of the new coronavirus. Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Mike Lorenzo Vera and Joost Luiten will compete from their own homes in the BMW Indoor Invitational. It consists of five 18-hole rounds at some of the tour’s most famous courses using the latest simulator technology from Trackman.
Fans will be able to watch on the European Tour’s social media channels. It starts Saturday with simulated action on the Old Course at St. Andrews, and there will be a competition each Saturday thereafter at Royal Portrush, Golfclub Munchen Eichenried (site of the BMW International Open in Germany), Valderrama and Wentworth.
MASTERS PREPARATION J.T. Poston, who won the Wyndham Championship last year with the first bogey-free tournament on the PGA Tour in 45 years, thought he was the victim of bad timing when he made his first trip to Augusta National for a practice round.
It was the week of the AT&T Pebble Beach in early February. “At the time, I thought it wasn't going to be the best preparation because it was 45 degrees,” Poston said. “But now that it's in November, there a chance of it being colder.”
Poston was among those who qualified for the Masters for the first time, only for the COVID-19 pandemic to force a postponement until two weeks before Thanksgiving. That's not a problem. “As long as I get to play,” he said.
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY One of the more compelling moments at the AT&T Byron Nelson was on a Friday involving a player who didn’t even feature on the week. Tiger Woods missed the cut, ending his record of 142 consecutive PGA Tour events making the cut.
Needing a par on the 18th hole at Cottonwood Valley to make it, Woods hit 2-iron in the fairway, but his 7-iron rode a strong right-to-left wind into a bunker, and the best he could do was blast out to 15 feet. It was tense on the course. In the locker room, Jesper Parnevik said players were betting $1,000 that Woods would make it. Everyone was watching.
He missed. Woods played that day with Kevin Sutherland and Peter Lonard. When it was over, Lonard was asked for his reaction. “It wasn’t my fault,” he said. Woods, who won the Nelson in 1997, never returned.
KORN FERRY SCHEDULE Now that the Korn Ferry Tour won’t have players graduate to the PGA Tour this year, the developmental circuit is using the fall to add to a two-year season. Five tournaments will be held after the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, four of them previously scheduled earlier. The reconfigured schedule provides a total of 23 events in 2020, with the 2021 schedule to be announced later this year.
“While we won’t have the opportunity to graduate a Korn Ferry Tour Class in 2020, we feel our reimagined wraparound schedule — with newly created playing opportunities — is the best solution to our season that has been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Korn Ferry Tour President Alex Baldwin.
The reconfigured schedule includes back-to-back weeks at the TPC San Antonio — one on the Canyons Course, the other on the Oaks Course. The latter is the tournament course for the Valero Texas Open on the PGA Tour, which was canceled.
The top 25 players after the regular season ends in 2021 will get PGA Tour cards, with 25 more awarded from the postseason. The tour has made provisions that those in the top 10 after the Korn Ferry Tour Championship this year will get into opposite-field events on the PGA Tour.
DIVOTS The Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation is launching a campaign called “#LikeArnie” to support COVID-19 relief efforts. Among its response is providing food through Feeding America food banks to children in Orlando, Florida, and Palmer's hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and nearby Pittsburgh. The foundation already has provided masks and face shields to more than 20,000 workers at Orlando Health. ... The Symetra Tour hopes to start on July 8-10 and revised its 2020 schedule to add two tournaments and extend the season by five weeks into November. The schedule now has 16 tournaments, compared with 20 events before play was halted by the new coronavirus.
STAT OF THE WEEK Brendon Todd missed four straight cuts to start the season. He was about to miss another until he holed a bunker shot for par on his final hole of the second round in the Houston Open and tied for 28th. He won his next two starts.
FINAL WORD “It's possible in 2020 we could eat up most of the savings we saved in the last 10 years in 10 months. When we're not playing and not producing TV and a result, not delivering for international partners, it hurts players, it hurts caddies, and I can promise you it hurts the LPGA.” — LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan.