The Players Championship 2021 at TPC Sawgrass & The Covid Close-down in 2020

09-Mar-2021

PGA TOUR 2021 - The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, 11-14 March


This week the TOUR moves to Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida for the 48th Players Championship.  The last complete Players Championship, the 46th, was held in 2019 and was won by Rory McIlroy. Highlights from McIlroy's winning round are in the video above.  

In 2020, the 47th Players Championship, only the first round was played before Covid pandemic conditions brought sudden cancellation. Hideki Matsuyama had a two stroke lead and he equalled the course record of 9-under par 63.

Cameron Morfit of the PGA TOUR describes the unfolding events leading up to the cancellation, the personal responses of players, organisers, fans and others, and the effects it had on them:  

The PLAYERS' Greatest Comeback

"How the Tournament, and the TOUR, returned after getting caught in the Covid-19 crosshairs."

Excerpts Only:

The TOUR announced at noon [Thursday] that there would be no on-site fans Friday, an unprecedented measure. Professional tennis, professional soccer, college basketball’s biggest conference tournaments, and the NHL cancelled or suspended their seasons.   

“I remember eating with a couple other players,” Rahm says, “because we were teeing it up in about an hour and a half, and we were like, ‘What the hell are we doing? What’s going to happen?’ It’s going to be hard to forget that moment.”

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Ponte Vedra Beach resident Tommy Roy, who produces NBC’s golf coverage, was now tasked with covering the tournament while also covering an emerging global health emergency.

“Fortunately, we had Mike Tirico on the crew, our host, who is very connected with the sports world,” Roy says. “He was getting messages about all the different leagues and colleges getting ready to shut down, and one by one they all started doing so, and we were having to report that.”

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Everyone had an opinion on whether THE PLAYERS should continue. Golf seemed like the perfect social-distancing sport, being played outside on hundreds of acres. Rory McIlroy was among the first to say that if all the players and caddies could be tested, then play on.

But was that even possible?

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Upon stepping back into the room, having immersed himself in talks with local, state and federal officials, Monahan eyed the board, and his team. Travel restrictions were going up seemingly everywhere. Almost no sport was left standing. The parks had closed. After taking precautions from extra sanitation to the agonizing call to keep fans away, there was nothing left to do.

The text went out at 10 p.m.    

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McIlroy woke up early Friday, ready to roll. “Jumped in the shower and got dressed into all my golf stuff,” he says. “And was about to walk out the door and I looked at my phone. I was like, Oh, guess we're not playing today, so I probably found out a little later than most. Then it was just a matter of getting changed back into like casual clothes and going and picking my stuff up at the club and making the four-hour drive back home to Jupiter.”   Read the full article here


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