PGA Tour officials have pushed back the Memorial golf tournament in Dublin to July 13-19, and as of now the plan is to allow spectators.
The Memorial Tournament usually starts the week after Memorial Day, but this year golfers will tee off two weeks after Independence Day, the weekend originally scheduled for the British Open before tour officials canceled it.
“This is an unprecedented time in our world, as well as the world of sports,” wrote founder and Memorial Tournament host Jack Nicklaus in a statement. “I can’t emphasize enough the message related to doing your part by social distancing and helping our nation and world by slowing this pandemic. But while we all need to come together and be strong, we also need to be understanding and flexible. When the PGA TOUR was looking at how and when to revamp the golf calendar, the Memorial Tournament was quick to raise its hand and step up, and offer support for a new date."
The event will be held at Muirfield Village Golf Club, and increase the number of players from 120 to 144, which organizers say will allow more professionals to participate after the PGA Tour reduced its schedule.
"We were also happy to expand our field, as so many players around the world have lost opportunities to make a living," Nicklaus continued. "If a gesture so small can help some of them recoup their losses, we are all for it.”
A tour press release says Muirfield hopes to allow fans, but “the Memorial will proceed with an understanding that its operation may require alterations.” Organizers say that if spectators are ultimately not allowed, full refunds will be given out.
Like the rest of the sports world, coronavirus has upended professional golf. The PGA has been on hold since social distancing measures went into effect across the country. Nearly all events through the end of the year have been rescheduled, postponed, or canceled.
It's unclear when Ohio will lift restrictions on sporting events and other mass gatherings. Currently, the state's stay-at-home order extends until May 1, although golf courses are allowed to operate as long as golfers comply with social distancing measures.