PGA Tour abandon plans to allow 8,000 spectators per day at The Memorial
"We have the responsibility to recognise the health and safety of the players and all who attend the Memorial Tournament"
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 07/07/20 7:20am
The Memorial Tournament next week will now be played behind closed doors, the PGA Tour have confirmed.
The event hosted by Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village in Ohio, where Tiger Woods is expected to feature for the first time since the coronavirus shutdown, had initially hoped to allow up to 8,000 spectators per day.
But after consultation with State of Ohio officials and medical experts, the tournament will now go ahead with no fans on site, with the pro-am competition also cancelled "due to the rapidly changing dynamics of the Covid-19 pandemic".
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said: "We applaud the leadership, diligence and partnership it took from Jack Nicklaus, Dan Sullivan, the entire Memorial Tournament staff and State, County and City leadership to build a solid plan that would allow for limited fan attendance at next week's event.
"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.
"While this was a difficult decision, it was one made collectively, and we are appreciative of the process undertaken to this point that will allow us to welcome on-site fans when the time is right.
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"In the meantime, we have no doubt that the Memorial Tournament will once again be an incredible championship and deliver the best competitive environment for our players and utmost entertainment to our fans around the world."
Muirfield Village is also the host venue for this week's Workday Charity Open, a new event replacing the cancelled John Deere Classic, and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine last month gave the go-ahead for fans to attend next week's tournament, on of the most popular on the PGA Tour schedule.
But Nicklaus conceded that the health and safety risks to the players, with five positive Covid-19 tests over the last three weeks, were far too great and admitted that a cautious approach needed to be implemented.
"The Memorial Tournament team, led by Dan Sullivan, worked exhaustively on a plan that the Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, as well as other local, county and state leaders were comfortable with, confident in, and applauded," said Nicklaus.
"We had a good plan in place, and I could not be more proud of everyone who contributed to it. In the end, we have the responsibility to recognise the health and safety of the players and all who attend the Memorial Tournament.
"We, in partnership with Nationwide and the PGA Tour, will now focus on presenting the best-possible Memorial Tournament we can for the players and for the many fans watching at home and around the world on Golf Channel and CBS."
Executive director Dan Sullivan added: "While we embraced the opportunity to be the first PGA Tour event to welcome the return of on-site fans - and be a part of our nation's collective reemergence from the Covid-19 crisis - we recognise the current increase in positive Covid-19 cases across the country and our ultimate responsibility.
"We will host the 45th Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide without patrons on-site and encourage all fans of the Memorial and the PGA Tour to follow the competition through our collective social media channels and our broadcast partners.
"It's disappointing to the many who have tirelessly worked to create a plan for on-site patrons, but I'm confident the learnings from these efforts will contribute to golf's continued success, and we're excited to showcase Muirfield Village Golf Club - and ultimately, the Memorial Tournament - to our fans over the next two weeks."