The PGA Tour and the Memorial Tournament scrapped state-approved plans to have limited spectators next week because of what it described as rapidly changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event, hosted by Jack Nicklaus at his Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, was in line to be the first tournament with spectators since the PGA Tour returned to competition June 11 with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas — after a three-month shutdown due to the pandemic.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, last month approved a plan that would allow the Memorial to have 20% capacity on course property, which would include fans, private hospitality areas and essential staff to run the tournament.
"But given the broader challenges communities are facing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need to stay focused on the No. 1 priority for our 'Return to Golf' — the health and safety of all involved," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement released Monday.
The absence of spectators also means the tournament will not have a pro-am tourney.
Muirfield Village this week is hosting the Workday Charity Open, a one-time event that replaces the John Deere Classic, which officials chose to cancel this year and bring back in 2021. No spectators were to be allowed at the tournament that tees off Thursday.
It will be the first time since 1957 a course has held different PGA Tour events in consecutive weeks.
The 157-man field this week includes Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka, who are second, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the World Golf Ranking. The Memorial has special status and features only a 120-man field. Tiger Woods, who has not played competitively since the pandemic shut down golf — the 15-time major champion did take part in a made-for-TV charity event — is a five-time champion of the Memorial.
"We had a good plan in place, and I could not be more proud of everyone who contributed to it," said Nicklaus, who won the last of his record 18 major championships at the 1986 Masters. "In the end, we have the responsibility to recognize the health and safety of the players and all who attend the Memorial Tournament."
The 3M Open, set for July 23-26 near Minneapolis, already has said it would not have spectators, while the PGA Championship will be played Aug. 6-9 in San Francisco without fans. That leaves the World Golf Championships event in Memphis on July 30 as the next opportunity for golf to have fans at the course.