Memorial first PGA Tour event OK’d to allow fans

  • Senior golf writer for ESPN.com
  • Covered golf for more than 20 years
  • Earned Evans Scholarship to attend Indiana University

The Memorial Tournament will be the first PGA Tour event to allow spectators since the coronavirus shutdown when it is played at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village Golf Club next month in Ohio.

The tournament announced via Twitter that “thanks to state approval & support from the PGA Tour, patrons will be permitted to attend the 45th edition of The Memorial.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine confirmed the decision at his daily news conference Friday, officially granting The Memorial, which is scheduled for July 16-19, the go-ahead to be the first Ohio golf tournament to allow fans, with three other tournament’s plans still to be reviewed.

“In each one of these cases, they have come up with a plan that in many cases dramatically decrease the number of people and provide for sanitation,” DeWine said. “In some cases, [they] provide for one-way traffic. They are quite elaborate plans.”

The PGA Tour released a statement welcoming the decision, which said, in part: “The news announced today by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is a very positive step for the PGA Tour and the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide as it relates to a phased approach in re-introducing a limited number of on-site fans and guests. We very much look forward to the return of spectators on a limited basis at the Memorial Tournament.”

Last month, the leaders of the four Ohio tournaments, including The Memorial, sent a letter to DeWine requesting that he lift the ban on large gatherings so their golf tournaments could go on this summer with spectators.

DeWine put an order in place March 12 limiting gatherings in the state to 10 people or less in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tournament officials from the Memorial in Dublin, the Marathon Classic (LPGA) in Toledo, the Senior PGA Challenge in Akron and the Nationwide Children’s Championship (Korn Ferry) in Columbus co-signed a letter to DeWine.

“We appeal to you to permit the four Ohio professional tournaments to allow fans this coming July and August.”

The tournament directors said that without spectators “these tournaments will not be successful or viable.”

Earlier this week, it was announced that the canceled John Deere Classic would move for one year to the Dublin, Ohio, course to be played the week prior to The Memorial. That event will be sponsored by Workday and will be played July 9-12 without spectators.

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