For the first time since returning amid the coronavirus pandemic, the PGA Tour will allow spectators at an event on American soil.
The PGA Tour announced Friday that it will put 2,000 daily tickets to the 2020 Houston Open, scheduled for Nov. 5-8, up for sale.
The tickets will be available starting Oct. 21 at the tournament’s website, and will run from $79 for Thursday’s opening round to $109 for the other three rounds. The tickets will reportedly include food and drink at the course, alcohol not included.
From the PGA Tour:
“We are very happy that we will have fans at Memorial Park for this year’s Houston Open. We greatly appreciate the efforts of the City of Houston, Dr. David Persse (Chief Medical Officer for the City of Houston), and PGA TOUR for working with us in developing a thorough Health and Safety Plan that has enabled this to occur,” said Giles Kibbe, President of the Astros Golf Foundation. “The health and safety for all on property at Memorial Park and the City of Houston is our highest priority as we welcome members of the community to the newly-renovated venue and to watch the best players in the world compete.”
The Bermuda Championship, scheduled for Oct. 29 in the Bahamas, is also planning to allow spectators. The PGA Tour had previously hoped to allow spectators as early as the Memorial Tournament in July, but those plans were later nixed.
The Tour says the exact protocols and guidelines spectators will have to follow at the Houston Open will be announced later, though PGA and local ordinances will require masks at all times.
Among the players currently signed up for the tournament are Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Tony Finau. Last year’s Houston Open winner Lanto Griffin will also return. The Houston Open was previously scheduled a week later in November, but a schedule shuffle caused it to be bumped up.
In Houston’s former calendar slot is the Masters, which could interest many fans if the PGA Tour is allowing spectators again.
Will the Masters allow spectators?
While the PGA Tour allowing spectators a week before the Masters might be encouraging for the fans still hoping to find a way into Augusta, that’s only part of the equation. And the other part has already said it plans to allow no spectators.
Back in August, the Augusta National Golf Club announced that no guests will be admitted to the rescheduled Masters this year. Now, a month out from the tournament, that plan has not changed.
Augusta chairman Fred Ridley’s original comment on the decision:
“Since our initial announcement to postpone the 2020 Masters, we have remained committed to a rescheduled Tournament in November while continually examining how best to host a global sporting event amid this pandemic,” Ridley said in a statement. “As we have considered the issues facing us, the health and safety of everyone associated with the Masters always has been our first and most important priority.
“Throughout this process, we have consulted with health officials and a variety of subject matter experts. Ultimately, we determined that the potential risks of welcoming patrons and guests to our grounds in November are simply too significant to overcome.”
Theoretically, not much has changed to alter that decision. The day Augusta made that announcement, 54,278 new COVID-19 cases were announced in the United States. On Thursday, it was 65,327 cases.
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