The PGA Tour’s plan to resume play became clearer on Thursday, when the circuit unveiled a revised schedule. What also was clear is that any return to competition is contingent on widespread testing for the coronavirus.
Although officials stopped short of committing to blanket testing when the Tour restarts its proposed schedule June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge, the plan being considered would likely include numerous testing protocols.
“We're spending a lot of time right now learning about testing. I want to be perfectly clear that, first and foremost, the situation at the moment with testing is that it's most critical across the healthcare world and in our communities, and so at this juncture, we are merely evaluating it in the sports world and certainly on the PGA Tour,” said Tyler Dennis, the Tour’s chief of operations.
Because of shortages, testing for the coronavirus has been largely limited, according to CDC guidelines, to hospitalized patients and symptomatic healthcare workers.
Tour officials are optimistic that testing will be more readily available by early June and the current plan is to play the first four events on the revised schedule without fans, to minimize the possibility of potential exposure.
“Our understanding is that as [testing] becomes more widely available, it would be appropriate to be able to use that to help us return,” Dennis said. “We're in an evaluation mode learning about the testing, building out what we think could work from a testing protocol, and we'll certainly have more information on that over the next couple weeks and months.”
Officials will also have to address the possibility of someone – either a player, caddie or anyone associated with the event – testing positive during a tournament.
“It probably starts with some kind of testing before [a player] leaves home in an effort to be as safe as possible,” Dennis said. “Then proper hygiene and travel protocols as you travel towards the venue, possibly then testing that would go on in a safe and as clean an environment as we can make, both in terms of what you're doing in your daily routine at the golf course but also at the host hotel and dinners.”