Golf: Slack Tour found wanting

THE PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship, which is scheduled to come to an end today, was rocked with several positive

Covid-19 cases and left many wondering how the powers that be allowed it to go ahead.This is the third PGA Tour event after the Covid-19 lockdown and comes a week after the second event – the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and won by Webb Simpson – saw Nick Watney withdraw after the second round, having tested positive for the coronavirus.

Prior to the start of the Travelers Championship at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, on Thursday,

two-time Tour winner Cameron Champ withdrew having come back with a positive Covid-19 result.

Four-time Major champion and former world number one Brooks Koepka and Graeme McDowell also withdrew.

Their caddies both tested positive and it came on the back of a practice round that Koepka and McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion, played together in the build-up to the event.

Simpson and Chase Koepka followed suit and also withdrew from the Travelers Championship as a precautionary measure, despite fielding negative results.

In the wake of this shambles the PGA Tour sought to bring about a sense of calmness and issued a statement saying that they were “thorough”.

“We have been working since March to develop a comprehensive health and safety plan that would be considered a best practice among professional sports leagues.

“While we have been thorough in building and implementing a programme that mitigates as much risk as possible, we knew it would be impossible to eliminate all risk – as evidenced by the three positive tests this week (at the Travelers Championship).

“We need to use these developments as a stark reminder for everyone involved as we continue to learn from an operational standpoint,” the statement said. “We are making several adjustments to our health and safety plan, as noted in the memo sent to players, and we will continuously reinforce to all players, caddies, staff members and support personnel at PGA Tour events to adhere to social distancing and other safety protocols that further minimise risk.”

But not everybody has bought into the PGA Tour’s rhetoric and loads of questions remain answered.

Indeed, David Livingstone said on that the PGA Tour “found out that all the ‘protocols’ in the world couldn’t stop unforced errors from their own people inside the Tour bubble, and, to make matters worse, they were caught out trying to draw a veil over their mistakes”.

Livingstone added that “to see some tournament officials failing to adhere to guidance on contact and distancing and to watch players – you know, the usual suspects – spitting freely all over the course was worrying”.

It was reported that world number three Justin Thomas said last week Hilton Head Island was “an absolute zoo”, referencing the failure of the local authorities to put in place policies to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Many will now be waiting, and watching, to see how things unfold when the European Tour starts up again in Austria from Jul 15-18 with the Euram Bank Open at Adamstal Golf Club in Ramsau. The women’s LPGA tour gets going again with the LPGA Drive on Championship in Toledo, Ohio from July 31 to Aug 2.

In the meanwhile, the PGA Tour have to get their act together or they are going to learn some harsh and telling lessons.

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