PGA Tour rows back on plans to allow fans in Ohio

GOLF’S PGA Tour has reversed plans to allow spectators into next week’s Memorial Tournament in Ohio due to the "the rapidly changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic."
PGA Tour rows back on plans to allow fans in Ohio
Bryson DeChambeau kisses the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament trophy Sunday, July 5, 2020, at Detroit Golf Club in Detroit. DeChambeau won the tournament by three strokes for his first victory of the season and sixth overall. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Bryson DeChambeau kisses the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament trophy Sunday, July 5, 2020, at Detroit Golf Club in Detroit. DeChambeau won the tournament by three strokes for his first victory of the season and sixth overall. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

GOLF’S PGA Tour has reversed plans to allow spectators into next week’s Memorial Tournament in Ohio due to the "the rapidly changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic."

The Memorial was expected to be the first Tour event with limited fans in attendance, as tournament officials worked with local officials to devise a plan that would permit to 8,000 spectators per day at Muirfield Village. Without grandstands, fans were expected to watch from hillside areas around greens and tees which would be closely monitored for capacity and social distancing.

However, the Tour has confirmed that the Memorial will be the sixth event in a row without spectators. This week's Workday Charity Open, also played at Muirfield Village, was already expected to be played without fans present.

"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," said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. "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."

The 3M Open and US PGA Championship have already announced plans to conduct their upcoming events without fans present. That means that the soonest spectators could return would be the week of July 30-Aug. 2 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis.

Fans or none, Bryson DeChambeau continues to pound protein shakes and lift iron to transform his body and his game – and the plan is working.

With jaw-dropping drives and some clutch putts, DeChambeau won the Rocket Mortgage Classic by three strokes Sunday for his first victory of the season and sixth overall. He became the first PGA Tour player since 2004 to lead a tournament in driving distance, along with shots gained off the tee and putting.

DeChambeau's average 2nd shot distance on par 4's was 107.77 yards for the week.

“This is a little emotional for me because I did do something a little different,” the 26-year-old DeChambeau said. “I changed my body, changed my mindset in the game and I was able to accomplish a win while playing a completely different style of golf. And, it’s pretty amazing to see that. I hope it’s an inspiration to a lot of people.”

DeChambeau shot a 7-under 65 at Detroit Golf Club, birdieing four of the first seven holes and closing with three straight. He finished at a career-best 23-under 265.

DeChambeau has dramatically altered his body, packing about 240 pounds on his 6-foot-1 body, and took advantage of the extra time he had to work on his physique during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He understands what is the key to gaining the biggest advantage and that’s distance, and mega distance,” rival Kevin Kisner said. “He just has too much time on his hands. He needs to start getting married and having kids and feel like the rest of us.”

When DeChambeau was on the tee box at the 399-yard, par-4 13th, he waited for the next group to leave the green before hitting his drive so that he didn’t hit any fellow competitors.

“No, I’ve never done that,” he acknowledged. “I really could have gotten there.” DeChambeau is already the favourite with oddsmakers for each of the three legs of the ‘Pandemic Slam’.

Las Vegas oddsmakers make him the outright 10/1 favorite for each of the year's remaining majors.

Prior to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy were the 12/1 co-favorites for all three majors.

As for the year's first, the PGA Championship at Harding Park, McIlroy is still 12/1 followed by Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson at 16/1.

Tiger Woods, who last won the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in 2007, follows at 20/1.

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