The PGA Tour returns Thursday from a 90-day layoff on Thursday with a tournament in Fort Worth contested without spectators and with a new golf ritual: Players are instructed to disinfect their hands after each hole, while their caddies wipe golf bags with disinfectant.
But of the dozens of security procedures enacted for the return of professional golf, none have yet made the players worse than the corona virus tests they had to undergo when they arrived in Texas.
"I'm in more pain than I thought it was going to be, I'm not going to lie," Jon Rahm, number two on the tour, said on Tuesday, hours after he tested negative for the corona virus.
And when Jordan Spieth, the three-time grand championship winner, was asked what was the most awkward part of adapting to the new competitive environment of golf, he turned down suggestions that it could be the spectator-free atmosphere or someone can't get high-fiveen after a birdie putt.
"I think the swab test was probably the most awkward," said Spieth, referring to the long swab that needs to be inserted deep into the nasal cavity. "There was nothing comfortable about it."
While nothing can be as directly unpleasant as the virus smear test, during the four days in the Charles Schwab there are likely to be many unusual and abnormal situations. Challenge at the venerable Colonial Country Club.
Player scores rarely touched their clubs for two months after the PGA Tour suspended its schedule on March 13 due to the pandemic. Golf may be relaxed for recreational players, but for pros, the break was seen as an unexpected break from tight competition and the grind of long practice days.
In recent weeks, players have picked up their clubs again. But friendly contests with peers on a comfortable home course, or shapeless practice sessions, aren't the usual preparation for the stress of a PGA Tour event.
"It's almost impossible to simulate you're on tour," Dustin Johnson, the number 5-ranked golfer, said. & # 39; It takes some time to adjust. The match rust is very different if you haven't played. & # 39;
Rahm said he was seven weeks away from the game, and when he decided to play again his first goal was: & # 39; not the first seven balls I hit. & # 39; With that experience in mind, and with a laugh, Rahm predicted "a variety of scores" from his fellow competitors this week.
The long layoff unknowingly led to what is arguably the strongest field in the recent history of the Colonial event, which dates back to 1946. The world's top five ranked golfers, and 16 of the top 20, will retire on Thursday, although that group will not include the 11th-ranked Tiger Woods.
Woods, who has not toured the Genesis Invitational since mid-February when he finished last among golfers who made the cut, only played the Colonial Tournament once in 1997 and he usually plays none of the other tours events are scheduled in the next four weeks. Based on his usual schedule of favorite events, Woods wouldn't return until mid-July to play in the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio hosted by Jack Nicklaus.
But with the 2020 golf schedule shaken up and revised – the United States Open is in September and the Masters in November – it's reasonable to expect Woods to break with tradition and play relatively quickly, perhaps in the RBC Heritage Next week's classic at Hilton Head, SC or at the Travelers Championship outside Hartford, Conn., June 25-28.
In addition to Woods, other prominent golfers are missing from this week's field, but most are non-Americans who did not make the trip to Texas due to government guidelines quarantining for 14 days. That group includes Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood from England, Francesco Molinari from Italy and Adam Scott from Australia. Each is ranked in the top 31 of the tour.
Updated June 5, 2020
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