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PGA Tour to continue without fans due to coronavirus scare

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As the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the sports world, Augusta National is now considering whether to limit patrons at the upcoming 2020 Masters, or ban them from the premises altogether, according to multiple sources, reports golf.com.

An Augusta National member wrote in a text to GOLF senior writer Alan Shipnuck yesterday morning: “I believe the tournament will be played. Discussions are ongoing. Limiting patrons seems likely. Might be none at all. Closing practice rounds, canceling the Par-3…everything is on the table. Expect an announcement next week.”

This matches reporting from Golf Digest’s Joel Beall and Brian Wacker from earlier in the morning. According to their sources, tournament organizers are expected to make a decision in the next few days.

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Augusta National has yet to respond to inquiries from GOLF.com about these reports. One week ago, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said the Masters would proceed as planned.

The news comes the morning after the NBA suspended its entire season when Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. On the same night, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a temporary ban on all travel to the United States from much of Europe in an attempt to stifle the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. The travel ban, in particular, could have major impacts on international players in the Masters field.

While the European Tour has already postponed four tournaments in light of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, the PGA Tour has yet to announce any cancellations.

Yesterday, the PGA Tour banned fans from attending events moving forward due to coronavirus, starting with day two of The Players Championship.

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Following a conversation with President Donald Trump, the Tour has decided to proceed with its schedule as planned, but not allow spectators.

A statement from Commissioner Jay Monahan read: “Let me preface my remarks by reinforcing that the health and safety of our players, employees, partners, volunteers, fans and everybody associated with the PGA TOUR is our top priority.

“I’ve spoken to President Trump this morning, and I spoke to Governor Ron DeSantis a few hours ago as well. Our team is in constant communication with local health authorities in each market in which our tournaments are played, and we are tracking and monitoring the health information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization in addition to the travel advisories provided by the U.S. State Department. Both the White House and the Governor’s office have been and are supportive of the precautionary measures we have taken to this point.

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“It goes without saying that this is an incredibly fluid and dynamic situation. We have been and are committed to being responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process.

“With that as pretext, at this point in time, PGA TOUR events – across all Tours – will currently proceed as scheduled, but will do so without fans. This policy starts at THE PLAYERS Championship tomorrow (today) and continues through the Valero Texas Open. It’s important to note, that could change, but for the time being, this decision allows the PGA TOUR, our fans and constituents to plan, prepare and respond as events develop.”

“Further, the recently announced travel advisories and potential logistical issues associated with players and staff traveling internationally limit our ability to successfully stage the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. Therefore, we are going to postpone that event and will provide details in the coming weeks on a reschedule as this situation develops.”

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