MEMPHIS, Tenn. – This week’s news that 17 players and coaches from the Miami Marlins tested positive for COVID-19 rocked the sports world and demonstrated how demanding a return to competition during a pandemic can be.
For PGA Tour players, it’s another reminder of why the circuit’s protocols must be followed if golf is to avoid a similar outbreak.
“I think we're so fortunate in our sport, it's different. We don't have the contact that basketball has, that football has. Baseball, we're not touching the same thing as in a baseball,” Justin Thomas said Tuesday at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. “I have no physical touch with anybody in my group. I can stay away from them. And we're outside. It's so different compared to other sports.”
Seven Tour players and three caddies have tested positive since the circuit returned to competition in early June and even with recent adjustments to its policy to allow “guests” and honorary observers at select events, confidence remains high among players that the Tour is making the correct adjustments.
“We're not going to have any touch with [guests or observers]. It's an opportunity for us to give back to them for doing what they're doing for the tournament,” Thomas said. “No, I'm very comfortable. I feel as normal as possible other than the stuff [testing] you do at the beginning of the week, but after that it's just become the norm and I have not once felt in danger. I've been pleasantly surprised.”
This week’s World Golf Championship will be the first event to allow honorary observers since the restart in early June. “Guests” will not be allowed back at Tour events until next month’s Wyndham Championship.