By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer
The PGA Tour and the Memorial scrapped state-approved plans to have limited spectators next week because of what it described as rapidly changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Memorial, hosted by Jack Nicklaus on his Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, was in line to be the first tournament with spectators since golf resumed its schedule on June 11 in Texas.
Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine last month approved a plan that would allow the Memorial to have 20% capacity on property, which would include fans, private hospitality areas and essential staff to run the tournament.
“But given the broader challenges communities are facing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need to stay focused on the No. 1 priority for our ‘Return to Golf’ — the health and safety of all involved,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement Monday.
The absence of spectators also means the tournament will not have a pro-am.
Muirfield Village this week is holding the Workday Charity Open, a one-time event that replaces the John Deere Classic, which officials chose to cancel this year and bring back in 2021. No spectators were to be allowed this week.
It’s the first time a course has held different tournaments in consecutive weeks.
The 157-man field this week includes Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay. The Memorial has special status and features only a 120-man field. Tiger Woods, who has not played competitively since the pandemic shut down golf, is a five-time champion at the Memorial.
“We had a good plan in place, and I could not be more proud of everyone who contributed to it,” Nicklaus said. “In the end, we have the responsibility to recognize the health and safety of the players and all who attend the Memorial Tournament.”
The 3M Open outside Minneapolis on July 23-26 already has said it would not have spectators, while the PGA Championship in San Francisco is being played Aug. 6-9 without fans. That leaves the World Golf Championships event in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 30 as the next opportunity for golf to have fans on the course.