FORT WORTH, Texas — As much as golf has taken a financial hit worldwide from the COVID-19 pandemic, Rory McIlroy says it has illustrated how tours should consider some form of consolidation.
“I don’t know if everything being under one umbrella is the solution, but definitely fewer umbrellas I think is a way forward,” McIlroy said.
The world’s No. 1 player likes the idea of a world tour. He did not like the idea of an outside organization, like the Premier Golf League, trying to cherry-pick a small number of top players for events around the world. He was the first player to state publicly he would not be joining.
McIlroy said the puzzle of restoring golf schedules during the pandemic made it clear how many moving parts are involved. The first step was PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan meeting with the majors’ organizations — Augusta National, the PGA of America, USGA and R&A — to figure out when they could be played.
There are six major tours involved in the Official World Golf Ranking — PGA Tour, European Tour, Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. Then there are 17 smaller tours (some attached to main tours) that get ranking points.
McIlroy had an idea, just not a solution.
“Whether it’s European Tour events offering FedEx Cup points and some PGA Tour events offering Race to Dubai points, I don’t know,” he said. “But just a little bit more cohesion, and then I think trying to figure out the schedule going forward this year.”
“The major bodies, they’re thinking about one or two weeks a year,” he said. “And I think speaking to the PGA Tour, speaking to the European Tour, having everyone together and trying to figure this out has definitely opened some people’s eyes to what actually goes on and how many moving parts there is. So I think the more that all these bodies can sort of work together for the greater good of game can only be a good thing.”
Tony Finau weighed in with his own experience with racism with an Instagram post in which he detailed a 2014 incident with police.
“Have I dealt with racism in my life as a person of colour in this country? Yes, I have. I’m not proud to say,” Finau said in a video. “I’m not proud to say that I have been disrespected and mistreated because of the colour of my skin.”
Finau is of Tongan and Samoan descent whose father kept him and his brother out of trouble growing up in Utah by introducing them to golf.
Finau mentioned the police incident in which he was in a car with a white friend who had a warrant for his arrest because of “tickets with his drive.” He said police asked both of them to get out of the car, and Finau asked why.
When he got out of the car, he says police slammed him against he door and handcuffed him.
“Shortly after that, I was in the back of car,” he said. “To try to describe the feeling of injustice, unfairness at this time, and try to portray that to those who have never been treated this way, it’s a very inhumane feeling and wrong on all levels. And it’s a criminal act for law enforcement to treat anyone this way but especially those of colour.”
He said he was compelled to share his story after watching video of George Floyd, a black man who was handcuffed when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee to the back of his neck until he stopped breathing.
“I voice my opinion because I stand with those who are for justice, those who are for equality and that are against police brutality and anyone abusing their authority because of the colour of someone else’s skin,” he said. “I’m against racism, and I’m for Black Lives Matter and this movement.”
Any cheering at the Memorial might sound different from mask-wearing fans.
The Memorial on July 16-19 is scheduled to be the first PGA Tour event with spectators, and the tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus is starting to develop plans.
Tournament badges are sold out because only a limited number will be allowed. The Columbus Dispatch said it would be 8,000 fans.
Spectators will park their own cars — no more shuttles — and have their temperature taken upon arrival, along with a CDC health questionnaire. Anyone with a temperature 100 degrees or higher will be asked to stay at home.
Masks will be required, with some exceptions.
Each hole will have one-way corridors to avoid a confluence, and there will be designated sitting or standing corals on each hole with a set number of people allowed. Muirfield Village will not have grandstands.
For concessions, all sales will be with a credit card. The tournament said maximum capacity would be 20%. That includes spectators, private venues and those working the event.
Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press