On Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan stepped to the podium ahead of the Travelers Championship to address the positive tests that have come in the last three weeks on both the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour. Monahan handled the issue perfectly saying, “We need to live with the virus because it’s not going away.”
As the leader of a sports league, this statement is perfect and couldn’t have been said any better. It is also supported by facts.
Testing data in US
Total Tests Total Positive %
29,339,757 2,848,081 9.7%
PGA Tour onsite testing
Total Tests Total Positive %
2,757 7 .25%
US Natl’ avg 40x more than @PGATOUR on-site testing numbers thru 3-weeks
— George Savaricas (@GeorgeSavaricas) June 24, 2020
But for some in the media, facts don’t matter and fear sells.
Each PGA Tour event is filled with around 150 players plus caddies, coaches, media, PGA Tour staff, and tournament support personnel. This group not only travels weekly but changes weekly. New players show up, new support staff are needed in new cities. There is a multitude of moving parts.
Many of the positive tests have come after the initial arrival test had already returned a negative result. It’s to be expected that there will likely be a positive test at some point upon arrival at a new location considering all the different variables.
Cameron Champ, who tested positive ahead of the Travelers Championship this week said, “I feel great physically and I was surprised and disappointed to learn of the rest results.”
The caddies for both Graham McDowell and Brooks Koepka tested positive and all parties withdrew. On Friday, the Tour announced that Denny McCarthy had tested positive as well. The two guys he played with, Matt Wallace and Bud Cauley were negative. Cauley withdrew out of an abundance of caution and Wallace teed off alone.
“Denny has our full support as he self-isolates here in Hartford and recovers, and I know I speak for the entire Tour membership in thanking him for doing the right thing in requesting an additional test before heading to the golf course today,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement. “What Denny, Bud and others are demonstrating is exactly what we asked of everyone — continue to do your part in taking this virus seriously and keeping not only your own health as a priority, but also that of your fellow competitors and those you may come in contact with.”
What good does shutting down the tournament do when there are only a couple of positive cases and the majority of tests return negative results?
Everyone who was in contact with those who tested positive have been tested multiple times since and will continue to be tested throughout the event. To suggest a complete shutdown based on one or two positives within a group is lunacy.
Rory McIlroy, who called for the Tour to shut down at The Players Championship in March if a player or caddie tested positive, echoed that things are currently being handled correctly.
“I think people … you hear one or two positive tests and people are panicking, and I saw a couple of calls to shut the tournament down, which is silly from my point of view,” McIlroy said. “You know, I thought [Monahan] did a really good job explaining. There have been almost 3,000 tests administered. The percentage of positive tests is under … it’s a quarter of a percent.
“I think as a whole, it’s been going really well. There’s a couple of loose ends that we needed to tidy up, and I think we’ve done that. So yeah, I feel like the mood and the tone of the event was probably lifted by Jay yesterday.”
The PGA Tour has done an exceptional job of making a return to normalcy considering all of the variables involved. This is not the same situation as what the NBA will encounter when they return in a locked-down bubble at Disney World.
Surely, there is a threshold number that the PGA Tour has in mind in which they will decide to stop play, but that number has not been reached and it’s hard to know what number of positive tests would require a shut down because there hasn’t been a situation to introduce that line of thinking.
If anything, other leagues, like Major League Baseball and the NBA can learn from how the PGA Tour has handled this. They’ve been diligent in testing and are going as far as to implement even more social distancing rules moving forward to minimize the number of positive tests. Will that eliminate the positives? Probably not, but it is a way to continue to learn and deal with the situation.
Don’t buy into the fear and emotion-based reporting. Here at Outkick, we’re relying on facts first.